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'He prayeth best who loveth best 
All things both great and small; 
For the dear God who loveth us, 
He made and loveth all.' 





His parent hand, 

From the mute shell-fish gasping on the shore, 
To men, to angels, to celestial minds, 
For ever leads the generations- on 
To higher scenes of being ; while supplied 
From day to day with his enlivening breath, 
Inferior orders in succession rise 
To fill the void below.' 

AKENSIDE. Pleasures of the Imagination. 


THE plan of this work is so fully explained in the 
Introductory Chapter that but little preface is needed. 
Its main object is to acquaint young people with the 
structure and habits of the lower forms of life ; and 
to do this in a more systematic way than is usual in 
ordinary works on Natural History, and more simply 
than in text-books on Zoology. 

For this reason I have adopted the title " Life 
and her Children," to express the family bond uniting 
all living things, as we use the term " Nature and her 
Works," to embrace all organic and inorganic pheno- 
mena ; and I have been more careful to sketch in 
bold outline the leading features of each division, 
than to dwell upon the minor differences by which it 
is separated into groups. 

I have made use of British examples in illustration 
wherever it was possible, and small specimens of most 


of the marine animals figured may be found upon 
our coasts at low tide. 

In conclusion, I wish to express my great obliga- 
tion to Mr. R. Garnett of the British Museum, for his 
most kind assistance in finding works of reference on 
the special subjects ; and to many men of science, 
especially Mr. Lowne, F.R.C.S., and Mr. Haddon, De- 
monstrator of Comparative Anatomy at Cambridge, 
for their valuable criticisms on the proof-sheets. 

The Illustrations of the marine animals have been 
drawn by Dr. Wild, artist of the ' Challenger' Expedi- 
tion, and those of the insects by Mr. Edwin Wilson, 
to both of whom my thanks are due for the care 
and assiduity with which they have carried out my 


LONDON, November 1880. 







AND BUILD ........ 14 

How SPONGES LIVE ........ 33 























PLATE I. LIFE IN THE DEEP SEA. i. Sea- Lily, Pentacrinm 
asteria. 2. Sponge, Etiplectella aspergillum. 3. Coral, Lopho- 
kelia prolifera. 4. Sea-Urchin, Echinus elegans. 5. Basket-fish, 
Asterophyton linkii. 6. Sea-cucumber, Cladodactyla crocca. 7. 
Jelly-fish, Pelagia noctilnca. 8. Pteropod, Clio pyramidata. 


PLATE II. INSECT LIFE. I. Ant-Lion in its pit with whole insect 
shown above. la. Ant-lion flying. 2. Tiger- Beetle, Cicin- 
dela campestris. 3. Bombardier Beetle, Brachinus crepitans. 
4. Burying Beetle, Necrophorus interrtiptus. 5. Cock-tail Beetle, 
Staphylinns olers. 6. Swallow -tailed Butterfly, Papilio Mac- 
haon ........ to face p. 135 



The Thread-slime, Frotogenes . . ,, , . .16 

The Finger Slime, Protamazba . . . . , . . 18 

Infusoria, Monas, Noctihica, Vorticella 20 

Foraminifera, Miliola, Globigerina> etc. . . ... 23 

Jelly-body of a Miliolite . 24 

Nummulite, showing the chambers 27 

Sun-Slime, Physemathim ... . . , , .29 
The Flint Shells of Radiolarice or Polycistinse . , . . . 30 
A fragment of bath-sponge magnified ..... 34 

A British sponge found at Brighton 37 

A Sponge-egg and the young sponge swimming ... 38 
Development of a young English sponge ..... 39 
Section of a bath-sponge, showing the chambers . . .41 



A Lime-sponge with the living flesh 44 

Spicules of flint-sponges ........ 45 

Sarcode or flesh of a flint-sponge with the spicules ... 46 
Venus' Basket. The skeleton of a flint-sponge ... 47 
Cup-sponge growing at the bottom of the sea .... 48 

Fresh - water hydra hanging from duckweed . . . . 5 1 

Lasso-celis of the Hydra and Sea- Anemone .... 53 

The Sea-Oak, SerinZaria 56 

The Campanulina, an animal-tree giving off jelly-bells . . 59 

A jelly-fish, Chrysoara hysocella 63 

The childhood of the same jelly-fish 65 

Section of a Sea- Anemone showing its parts .... 67 
Group of Sea- Anemones . . . . . . .68 

Growth of Red Coral 72 

A section of a piece of Red Coral ...... 73 

A piece of White Coral . ...... 74 

The Devonshire Cup-Coral, Caryophylliutn Smythii . . 75 

The infancy of a Feather Star-fish . . ... . -78 

The infancy of a Brittle Star-fish 79 

The infancy of the common Star-fish ..... 80 

The infancy of a Sea-Urchin . . . . . . .81 

The infancy of a Sea-Cucumber ...... 82 

The common five-fingered Star-fish and the Brittle Star-fish . 84 
Section of the centre and of one ray of a Star-fish ... 85 
The life of a Feather- Star ....... 90 

A Sea-Urchin walking on a rock . . . ... 94 

A Sea-Urchin with its spines rubbed off . . . . -95 

An Oyster (Ostrea edulis) lying in the shell, showing the gills, 

mouth, etc 108 

A group of headless Mollusca, Cockle, Mussel, Scallop, and Razor-fish 1 1 1 
Mollusca with heads, Vegetable-feeders, Limpet and Periwinkle 114 

The anatomy of a Periwinkle 115 

Flesh-feeding Molluscs, Whelk and Cowry . . . .118 
Garden Snail, Great Grey Slug, and Testacella . . .122 
Naked -gilled Mollusca or sea-slugs, Doris pilosa and Eolis coronata 1 24 
Oceanic Mollusca, lanthina, Carinaria, and a Pteropod . .125 
Octopus shooting backwards through the water . . .127 
The Mother Argonaut floating in the water . . . .132 
Land-Leeches of Ceylon racing to attack some creature . . 143 
Section of a Leech showing the nervous system . . 1 44 



A group of fixed Sea- Worms Serpula, Terebella, and Spirorbis 148 
Active Sea- worms, Aphrodite or sea-mouse, and Nereis . . 151 
A group of jointed-footed animals, Arthropoda, showing their 

ringed bodies . . . 155 

The Common Prawn . . . . . . . .160 

Sandhopper (Talilrus} and Skeleton Shrimp (Caprellq) . . 163 
Section of a prawn ; and forepart with carapace removed show- 
ing the branchise 164 

Metamorphoses of a Crab . . . . . . .167 

Hermit-crabs in and out of the shell 170 

Floating Barnacles, Lepas, with a bank of fixed Acorn-Barnacles, 

Balanus . . . . . . .174 

Development of the Acorn Barnacle . . .176 
A Scorpion with a Cricket in its claws . , . .179 

The parts of a Spider . . . . . . . .183 

Web of the garden spider . . . , , . .185 
Nest of a trap-door spider .... 192 

A hunting spider with a bag of eggs 195 

The Water- Spider, Argyroneta aquatica . . , . .197 
Aphides or plant-lice, with a grub feeding on them . . . 202 
The Cuckoo-spit insect (Aphrophora spumaria) ' ... . 206 

The Water-Measurer (Gerris) and Water-Boatman (Notonecta) . 208 
The large Green Grasshopper, its changes and its egg-laying . 211 
Spiracle and breathing-tube of an insect . . . . .212 

Cockroaches Young, male, and female, with egg-case . .216 
May-flies (Ephemera) and Caddis-flies (Phryganea] with their grubs 220 
Dragon-fly, with the grub and the insect emerging . . . 223 
Section of an insect's eye . . . . . . .224 

African Termites king, queen, worker, and soldier . . . 226 

Queen Termite cell with queen within 228 

Butterfly's head, caterpillar's head and cushion-foot, a butterfly's 

gg 237 

Caterpillar, chrysalis, and perfect insect, of the Tortoise-shell 

butterfly 239 

Caterpillar and chrysalis of Cabbage Butterfly .... 243 
Caterpillar, cocoon, and moth of the six-spot Burnet . . 246 

Psyche gramitiella, caterpillar and moth 247 

Clothes-Moth with grub and pupa ...... 249 

Cockchafer grub, cocoon, and beetle ..... 252 

The Nut-weevil, maggot and beetle . 254 



Carnivorous Beetles, Dyticus marginalis, and the whirligig 

beetles 257 

Daddy-long-legs, showing the balancers ..... 262 
Common Gnat, grub, pupa, insect emerging and gnat on the 

wing 264 

The Hill Ant, Formica rtifa, and House Ant, Myrmica molesta, 

and their structure 271 

Ant's Head and Foot, showing the mouth-parts and the leg-combs 273 

Section of an Ants' nest, from Figuier 279 

Cleared disk of the agricultural ant's nest .... 295 



Wisdom and Spirit of the Universe ! 
Thou Soul, that art the Eternity of Thought ! 
And giv'st to forms and images a breath 
And everlasting motion! WORDSWORTH. 

WONDER whether it ever 
occurs to most people to con- 
sider how brimful our world is 
ju of life, and what a different place 
it would be if no living thing had 
ever been upon it ? From the time 
we are born till we die, there is 
scarcely a waking moment of our 
lives in which our eyes do not 
rest either upon some living thing, 
or upon things which have once 
been alive. Even in our rooms, 
the wood of our furniture and our 
doors could never have been with- 
out the action of life ; the paper on our walls, the 
carpet on our floors, the clothes on our back, the 
cloth upon the table, are all made of materials which 
life has produced for us ; nay, the very marble of 


our mantelpiece is the work of once living animals, 
and is composed of their broken shells. The air we 
breathe is full of invisible germs of life ; nor need 
we leave the town and go to the country in search 
of other living beings than man. There is scarcely 
a street or alley where, if it be neglected for a 
time, some blade of grass or struggling weed does 
not make its appearance, pushing its way through 
chinks in the pavement or the mortar in the wall ; 
no spot from which we cannot see some insect creep- 
ing, or flying, or spinning its web, so long as the 
hand of man does not destroy it. 

And when we go into the quiet country, leaving 
man and his works behind, how actively we find life 
employed ! Covering every inch of the ground with 
tiny plants, rearing tall trees in the forest, filling the 
stagnant pools full of eager restless beings ; anywhere, 
everywhere, life is at work. Look at the little water- 
beetles skimming on the surface of the shady wayside 
pool, watch the snails feeding on the muddy bank, 
notice the newts putting their heads above water 
to take breath, and then remember that, besides these 
and innumerable other animals visible to the naked eye, 
the fairy-shrimp and the water-flea, and other minute 
creatures, are probably darting across the pond, or 
floating lazily near its surface ; while the very scum 
which is blown in ridges towards one corner of the 
pool is made up of microscopic animals and plants. 

Then, as we pass over plain, and valley, and 
mountain, we find things creeping innumerable, both 
small and great ; some hidden in the moss or the thick 
grass, rolled up in the leaves, boring into the stems 
and trunks of trees, eating their way underground or 


into even the strongest rock ; while others, such as 
the lion, the tiger, and the elephant, roaming over 
Africa and India, rule a world of their own where 
man counts for very little. Even in our own thickly 
peopled country rabbits multiply by thousands in 
their burrows, and come to frolic in the dusk of 
evening when all is still. The field-mice, land and 
water rats, squirrels, weasels, and badgers, have their 
houses above and below ground, while countless in- 
sects swarm everywhere, testifying to the abundance of 
life. Not content, moreover, with filling the water 
and covering the land, this same silent power peoples 
the atmosphere, where bats, butterflies, bees, and 
winged insects of all forms, shapes, and colours, 
fight their way through the ocean of air ; while birds, 
large and small, sail among its invisible waves. 

And when by and by we reach the sea, we find 
there masses of tangled seaweed, the plants of the 
salt water, while all along the shores myriads of 
living creatures are left by the receding tide. In 
the rocky pools we find active life busily at work. 
Thousands of acorn-shells, many of them scarcely 
larger than the head of a good-sized pin, cover the 
rocks and wave their delicate fringes in search of food. 
Small crabs scramble along, or swim across the pools, 
sand-skippers dart through the water, feeding on the 
delicate green seaweed, which in its turn is covered 
with minute shells not visible to the naked eye, and 
yet each containing a living being. 

Wherever we go, living creatures are to be found, 
and even if we sail away over the deep silent ocean 
and seek what is in its depths, there again we find 
abundance of life, from the large fish and other mon- 


sters which glide noiselessly along, lords of the ocean, 
down to the jelly-masses floating on the surface, and 
the banks of rocky coral built by jelly - animals 
in the midst of the dashing waves. There is no 
spot on the surface of the earth, in the depths of 
the ocean, or in the lower currents of the air, which 
is not filled with life whenever and wherever there is 
room. The one great law which all living beings 
obey is to "increase, multiply, and replenish the 
earth;" and there has been no halting in this work 
from the day when first into our planet from the 
bosom of the great Creator was breathed the breath 
of life, the invisible mother ever taking shape in 
her children. 

No matter whether there is room for more living 
forms or not, still they are launched into the world. 
The little seed, which will be stifled by other plants 
before it can put forth its leaves, nevertheless thrusts 
its tiny root into the ground and tries to send a 
feeble shoot upwards. Thousands and millions of 
insects are born into the world every moment, which 
can never live because there is not food enough for 
all. If there were only one single plant in the whole 
world to-day, and it produced fifty seeds in a year 
and could multiply unchecked, its descendants would 
cover the whole globe in nine years/"" But, since 
other plants prevent it from spreading, thousands and 
thousands of its seeds and young plants must be 
formed only to perish. In the same way one pair, 
of birds having four young ones each year, would, if 
all their children and descendants lived and multi- 
plied, produce two thousand million in fifteen years, f 
* Huxley. t Wallace. 


but since there is not room for them, all but a very 
few must die. 

What can be the use of this terrible overcrowding 
in our little world ? Why does this irresistible living 
breath go on so madly, urging one little being after 
another into existence ? Would it not be better if 
only enough were born to have plenty of room and 
to live comfortably? 

Wait a while before you decide, and think what 
every creature needs to keep it alive. Plants, it is 
true, can live on water and air, but animals cannot ; 
and if there were not myriads of plants to spare in 
the world, there would not be enough for food. 
Then consider again how many animals live upon 
each other ; if worms, snails, and insects, were not 
over-abundant, how would the birds live ? upon what 
would lions, and tigers, and wolves feed if other 
animals were not plentiful ; while, on the other hand, 
if a great number of larger animals did not die and 
decay, what would the flesh -feeding snails, and 
maggots, and other insects find to eat ? And so we 
see that for this reason alone there is some excuse 
for the over-abundance of creatures which life thrusts 
into the world. 

But there is something deeper than this to con- 
sider. If in a large school every boy had a prize 
at the end of the half-year, whether he had worked 
or not, do you think all the boys would work as 
hard as they do or learn as well ? If every man 
had all he required, and could live comfortably, and 
bring up his children to enjoy life without working 
for it, do you think people would take such trouble 
to learn trades and professions, and to improve them- 


selves so as to be more able than others ? Would 
they work hard day and night to make new inven- 
tions, or discover new lands, and found fresh colonies, 
or be in any way so useful, or learn so much as they 
do now ? 

No, it is the struggle for life and the necessity 
for work which makes people invent, and plan, and 
improve themselves and things around them. And 
so it is also with plants and animals. Life has to 
educate all her children, and she does it by giving 
the prize of success, health, strength, and enjoyment 
to those who can best fight the battle of existence, 
and do their work best in the world. 

Every plant and every animal which is born upon 
the earth has to get its own food and earn its own 
livelihood, and to protect itself from the attacks of 
others. Would the spider toil so industriously to 
spin her web if food came to her without any 
exertion on her part ? Would the caddis worm 
have learnt to build a tube of sand and shells to 
protect its soft body, or the oyster to take lime from 
the sea-water to form a strong shell for its home, if 
they had no enemies to struggle against, and needed 
no protection ? Would the bird have learnt to build 
her nest or the beaver his house if there was no need 
for their industry ? 

But as it is, since the whole world is teeming 
with life, and countless numbers of seeds and eggs 
and young beginnings of creatures are only waiting 
for the chance to fill any vacant nook or corner, 
every living thing must learn to do its best and to 
find the place where it can succeed best a.nd is least 
likely to be destroyed by others. And so it comes to 


pass that the whole planet is used to the best advan- 
tage, and life teaches her children to get all the good 
out of it that they can. 

If the ocean and the rivers be full, then some 
must learn to live on the land, and so we have for 
example sea-snails and land-snails ; and whereas 
the one kind can only breathe by gills in the water, 
the other breathes air by means of air-chambers, 
while between these are some marsh -snails of the 
tropics, which combine both, and can breathe in both 
water and air. We have large whales sailing as 
monarchs of the ocean, and walruses and seals fish- 
ing in its depths for their food, while all other 
animals of the mammalian class live on the land. 

Then, again, while many creatures love the bright 
light, others take advantage of the dark corners 
where room is left for them to live. You can scarcely 
lift a stone by the seaside without finding some 
living thing under it, nor turn up a spadeful of 
earth without disturbing some little creature which 
is content to find its home and its food in the dark 
ground. Nay, many animals for whom there is no 
chance of life on the earth, in the water, or in the 
air, find a refuge in the bodies of other animals and 
feed on them. 

But in order that all these creatures may live, 
each in its different way, they must have their own 
particular tools to work with, and weapons with 
which to defend themselves. Now all the tools and 
weapons of an animal grow upon its body. It 
works and fights with its teeth, its claws, its tail, its 
sting, or its feelers ; or it constructs cunning traps 
by means of material which it gives out from its own 


body, like the spider. It hides from its enemies 
by having a shape or colour like the rocks or the 
leaves, the grass or the water, which surround it. It 
provides for its young ones either by getting food for 
them, or by putting them, even before they come out 
of the egg, into places where their food is ready for 
them as soon as they are born. 

So that the whole life of an animal depends upon 
the way in which its body is made ; and it willlead 
quite a different existence according to the kind of 
tools with which life provides it, and the instincts 
which a long education has been teaching to its 
ancestors for ages past. It will have its own peculiar 
struggles, and difficulties, and successes, and enjoy- 
ments, according to the kind of bodily powers which 
it possesses, and the study of these helps us to under- 
stand its manner of existence. 

And now, since we live in the world with all 
these numerous companions, which lead, many of 
them, such curious lives, trying like ourselves to make 
the best of their short time here, is it not worth 
while to learn something about them ? May we not 
gain some useful hints by watching their contrivances, 
sympathising with their difficulties, and studying 
their history? And above all, shall we not have 
something more to love and to care for when we 
have made acquaintance with some of Life's other 
children besides ourselves ? 

The one great difficulty, however, in our way, is 
how to make acquaintance with such a vast multitude. 
Most of us have read anecdotes about one animal or 
another, but this does not give us any clue to the 


history of the whole animal world ; and without some 
such clue, the few observations we can make for our- 
selves are very unsatisfactory. On the other hand, 
most people will confess that books on zoology, where 
accounts are given of the structure of different classes 
of animals, though very necessary, are rather dull, 
and do not seem to help us much towards under- 
standing and loving these our fellow-creatures. 

What we most want to learn is something of the 
lives of the different classes of animals, so that when 
we see some creature running away from us in the 
woods, or swimming in a pond, or darting through 
the air, or creeping on the ground, we may have an 
idea what its object is in life how it is enjoying 
itself, what food it is seeking, or from what enemy 
it is flying. 

And fortunately for us there is an order and 
arrangement in this immense multitude, and in the 
same way as we can read and understand the history 
of the different nations which form the great human 
family spread over the earth, and can enter into their 
feelings and their struggles though we cannot know 
all the people themselves ; so with a little trouble we 
may learn to picture to ourselves the general life 
and habits of the different branches of the still 
greater family of Life, so as to be ready, by and by, 
to make personal acquaintance with any particular 
creature if he comes in our way. 

This is what we propose to do in the following 
chapters, and we must first consider what are the 
chief divisions of our subject, and over what ground 
we have to travel. It is clear that both plants and 
animals are the children of Life, and indeed among 


the simplest living forms it is often difficult to say 
whether they are plants or animals. 

But it is impossible for us to follow out the 
history of both these great branches or Kingdoms, 
as naturalists call them, so we must reluctantly turn 
our backs for the present upon the wonderful secrets 
of plant life, and give ourselves up in this work to 
the study of animals. 

First we meet with those simple forms which 
manage so cleverly to live without any separate 
parts with which to do their work. Marvellous 
little beings these, which live, and move, and 
multiply in a way quite incomprehensible as yet to 
us. Next we pass on to the slightly higher forms 
of the second division of life, in which the members 
have some simple weapons of attack and defence. 
Here we come first upon the wonderful living sponge, 
building its numerous canals, which are swept by 
special scavengers ; these form a sort of separate 
group, hovering between the first and second division, 
and from them we go on to the travelling jelly-fish, 
with their rudiments of eyes and ears, and their 
benumbing sting, and then to the sea-anemones with 
their lasso-cells, and to the wondrous coral-builders. 
Already we are beginning to find that the need of 
defence causes life to arm her children. 

The third division is a small, yet most curious one, 
containing the star-fish with their countless sucker-feet, 
the sea-urchins with their delicate sharp spines and 
curious teeth, and the sea -cucumbers with their 
power of throwing away the inside of their body 
and growing it afresh. This division goes off in 
one direction, while the next, or fourth, though start- 


ing with creatures almost as simple as the coral- 
builders, takes quite a different line, having for its 
members mussels and snails, cuttle-fish and oysters, 
and dividing into two curious groups : the one of 
the shell-fish with heads, and the other of those 
without any. 

The fifth division, starting also in its own line by 
the side of the third and fourth, includes the creeping 
worms provided with quite a different set of weapons, 
and working in their own peculiar fashion, some living 
in the water, some on the earth, and some in the flesh 
of other beings, feeding upon their living tissues. An 
ugly division this, and yet when we come to study it 
we shall find it full of curious forms showing strange 
habits and ways. 

The sixth division is a vast army in itself, with 
four chief groups all agreeing in their members 
having jointed feet, and subdivided into smaller 
groups almost without number. The first group, 
including the crabs and their companions, live in the 
water, and their weapons are so varied and numerous 
that it will be difficult for us even to gain some 
general idea of them. The other three groups, the 
centipedes, spiders, and six -legged insects, breathe 
only in the air. This sixth or jointed-legged division 
contains more than four- fifths of the whole of the 
living beings on our globe, and it forms a world 
of its own, full of interest and wonders. In it we 
have all the strange facts of metamorphosis, the 
wondrous contrivances and constructions of insect- 
life, and at the head of it those clever societies of 
wasps, bees, and ants, with laws sometimes even 
nearer to perfection than those of man himself. 

Lastly we come to the seventh and vast division 


of back-boned animals which will claim a separate 
volume to itself. This division has struggled side 
by side with the other six till it has won a position 
in many respects above them all. Nearly all the 
animals which we know best belong to it, the fishes, 
toads, and newts (amphibia), the reptiles, the birds, 
and the mammalia, including all our four-footed 
animals, as well as the whales, seals, monkeys, and 
man himself. 

Under these seven divisions then are grouped the 
whole of the living animals as they are spread over 
the earth to fight the battle of life. Though in many 
places the battle is fierce, and each one must fight 
remorselessly for himself and his little ones, yet the 
struggle consists chiefly in all the members of the 
various brigades doing their work in life to the best 
of their power, so that all, while they live, may lead 
a healthy, active existence. 

The little bird is fighting his battle when he 
builds his nest and seeks food for his mate and his 
little ones ; and though in doing this he must kill the 
worm, and may perhaps by and by fall a victim 
himself to the hungry hawk, yet the worm heeds 
nothing of its danger till its life comes to an end, 
and the bird trills his merry song after his break- 
fast and enjoys his life without thinking of perils 
to come. 

" While ravening death of slaughter ne'er grows weary, 
Life multiplies the immortal meal as fast. 
All are devourers, all in turn devoured, 
Yet every unit in the uncounted sum 
Of victims has its share of bliss its pang, 
And but a pang of dissolution : each 
Is happy till its moment comes, and then 
Its first, last suffering, unforeseen, unfear'd, 
Ends with one struggle pain and life for ever." 


So life sends her children forth, and it remains 
for us to learn something of their history. If we 
could but know it all, and the thousands of different 
ways in which the beings around us struggle and 
live, we should be overwhelmed with wonder. Even 
as it is we may perhaps hope to gain such a glimpse 
of the labours of this great multitude as may lead us 
to wish to fight our own battle bravely, and to work, 
and strive, and bear patiently, if only that we may 
be worthy to stand at the head of the vast family of 
Life's children. 




" The very meanest things are made supreme 
With innate ecstasy. No grain of sand 
But moves a bright and million-peopled land, 
And hath its Edens and its Eves, I deem. 
For love, though blind himself, a curious eye 
Hath lent me, to behold the heart of things, 
And touched mine ear with power. Thus, far or nigh, 
Minute or mighty, fixed or free with wings, 
Delight, from many a nameless covert sly, 
Peeps sparkling, and in tones familiar sings. 


'HO are Life's simplest children, 

and where are they to be found ? 

Let us try to answer the second 
question first, and rubbing the 
scales from off our eyes, peer into 
the hidden secrets of nature ; and 
when we have tracked to their 
home the tiny beginnings of life, 
we will examine them and try to 
understand how they live. 

How calm, and lovely, and 
still the sea looks on a warm, 
sunny, breezeless day of summer, 
and how happy we can imagine 
the myriads of creatures to be 
that float in its waters ! We know many of them 


well, especially those which come close up to the 
shore. The small fry of the fish, the shrimp arid the 
sand-hopper, the large jelly-fish, and the tiny trans- 
parent jelly-bells (see 3', Fig. 2 2), only to be seen by the 
keenest eye, as we dip out the water carefully in a 
glass. Surely these minute jelly-bells with their in- 
visible hanging threads must be some of the simplest 
and lowest forms of life. Not so, they are really 
very high up in the world compared with the forms 
we are seeking. 

If, indeed, we come out late some autumn evening 
when, after the sun has set and the sky is dark, the 
sea in some sheltered bay appears all covered with 
a sheet of light, we may see some of the beings 
of the lowest order of life with the naked eye ; for 
when we dip the liquid fire out in a glass vessel and 
examine it, we find in it hundreds and thousands of 
tiny bags of slime giving out the bright specks of 
light, and these little Noctilucae, or night-glows (2, 
Fig. 3), are, as* we shall presently see, some of Life's 
simplest children, although not by any means the 
most simple of the order. 

No ; to begin at the very beginning and find the 
first known attempts at a living being, we must 
search long and carefully, not merely with our 
own eyes, but with the microscope. Then we may 
perhaps be fortunate enough to discover some won- 
drously small creature like that on the next page, 
which Professor Haeckel took out of the sunny blue 
waters of the Mediterranean, near Nice, in 1864. 
The largest specimen to be found will be smaller 
than the smallest pin's head, yet when seen under 
the microscope, this tiny speck appears with out- 


stretched threads, a living animal (see tf,Fig. i), floating 
in search of food. Examine it how we will, we can 
find in it no mouth, no stomach, no muscles, no 
nerves, no parts of any kind. It looks merely like 

Fig. i. 

The Thread-slime.* Haeckel. 

a, In its natural round shape, immensely magnified ; b, spreading itself 
over a small animal, c (Ceratium), to suck the soft body out of the shell. 

a minute drop of gum with fine grains in it, floating 
in the water, sometimes with its fine threads out- 
stretched, sometimes as a mere drop ; and if we take 
it out and analyse the matter of which it is made, 
we find that is much the same as a speck of white- 
of-egg. Is it possible that it can be alive ? How can 
we be sure ? In the first place it breathes. If it be 
kept in a drop of water, it uses up the oxygen in 
it, and makes the water bad, by breathing into it 
carbonic acid ; then it moves, and, as we shall see 
presently, can draw in and throw out its fine threads 
when and where it chooses ; again it eats, feeding on 
the minute jelly -plants in the water, or even on 

* Protogenes. 


animals higher in the world than itself ; and lastly, it 
grows and increases, for when it is too large to be 
comfortable it splits in two, and each half goes its 
way as a living animal. 

Let us see how one behaved which Professor 
Haeckel took out of the sea and kept in a watch- 
glass under a microscope. When he first looked at 
it he found that it was drawn up in a lump with a 
minute animal and a plant-cell in the middle of its 
slime, and close by it in the water lay a small living 
animal called a Ceratium (c, Fig. i), which has a 
hard case or shell. After a while, as he watched, 
he saw the thread-slime put out its fine threads on 
all sides (a, Fig. i). Soon the threads on the right 
side touched the shell of the Ceratium. Here was 
food, and the body of the Thread-slime evidently 
became aware of it at once, for all the little grains in 
the slime began to course to and fro, and the threads 
touching the Ceratium lengthened out and stretched 
more and more over it, while all those on the other 
side which had not found any food were drawn in, 
(b, Fig. i). Six hours later when Dr. Haeckel looked 
again, to his astonishment the thread -slime had 
disappeared, but on examining more closely he 
discovered it completely spread in patches over the 
shell of the Ceratium. It had drawn its whole body 
after the pioneering threads and wrapped itself round 
its prey. Next morning when he looked again, lo ! 
it was back in its original place, and by its side lay 
the Ceratium shell quite empty, together with the 
skeletons of the other two forms which had been 
inside the Thread-slime ! 

This little drop of slime without eyes or ears or 


parts of any kind, knew how to find its food ; without 
muscles or limbs it was able to creep over it ; without 
a mouth it could suck out its living body ; without a 
stomach it could digest the food in the midst of its 
own slime, and throw out the hard parts which it 
did not want. 

This is the history of one of Life's simplest 

Here is another (Fig. 2), which lives not only in the 
sea but also in pools and puddles, and in the gutters 
of our streets and of 
our house-tops. Any- 
where that water lies 
stagnant these little 
drops of slime will grow 
up and make it their 
home. Sometimes few 
and far between, some- 
times in crowds, so that 

The Finger SVaoR*Haeekd. the whole pond would 
a, At rest, b, Feeding on minute seem a lj ve jf we CQU } d 

slime-plants. , , .. 

see them, they live, and 

multiply, and die under our very feet. Can any- 
thing be less like an animal than this shapeless 
mass (a, Fig. 2) ? Yet under a strong microscope it 
may be seen moving lazily along by putting out a 
thick slimy finger and then letting all the rest of its 
body flow after it. When it touches food it flows 
over it just as the Thread-slime did, and dissolving 
the soft parts sends out the hard refuse anywhere, it 
does not matter where, for it has no skin over its 
body, being merely one general mass of slime. 

* Protamoeba. 


And now, before we go on to other forms, let me 
ask you to pause and think what these little slime- 
specks tell us about the wonderful powers of Life. 
Can you guess at all how these creatures do their 
work ? We are obliged to have eyes to see our food, 
nerves and muscles to enable us to feel and grasp it, 
mouths to eat it, stomachs which secrete a juice in 
order to dissolve it, and a special pump, the heart, to 
drive it into the different parts of our body. But in 
these tiny slime-animals life has nothing better to 
work with than a mere drop of living matter, which 
is all alike throughout, so that if you broke it into 
twenty pieces every piece would be as much a living 
being as the whole drop. And yet by means of the 
wonderful gift of life, this slime -drop lives, and 
breathes, and eats, and increases, shrinks away if you 
touch it, feels for its food, and moves from place to 
place, changing its shape to form limbs and feeling- 
threads, which are lost again as soon as it no longer 
needs them. 

Nor have we yet learnt one-half of the marvels 
which can be wrought in living specks of slime. For, 
on further inquiry, we find these simple forms de- 
veloping two quite different modes of life. In the 
one case the slime is moulded itself into delicate 
forms, making creatures with mouths, with suckers, 
and with delicate lashes to drive the body through 
the water ; while in the other case, remaining a simple 
drop with delicate threads, it has learned to build a 
solid covering of the most exquisite delicacy. 

To the first class belongs our little Noctiluca, and 
the forms drawn by its side in Fig. 3. To the second 
belong the microscopic shells (Fig. 4) which form our 


chalk. Look at the little wriggling creatures at I, 
Fig. 3, small as they look here, they are drawn many 
thousand times larger than they really are in life, 
and yet they are much more perfectly formed than 
either the thread -slime or the finger-slime. They 
have actually a kind of skin, and do not throw out 
threads here and there, but are provided with a little 

Fig. 3. 

Infusoria, all immensely magnified. 
I, A group of monads.* 2, The Night-glow, t 3, Bell-flower.J 

whip of slime, which they lash to and fro, and so drive 
themselves through the water. These microscopic 
forms called monads grow up in water in which flowers 
have stood for many days till their stalks begin to de- 
cay, and in infusions of hay or straw, made by pouring 
hot water upon them and letting it stand ; and for 
this reason the little beings are called infusoria. In 
* Monas. f Noctiluca. i Vcrticella. 


such impure water, under a powerful microscope you 
may see them darting along by thousands. But the 
whip does not only serve them as an oar, it also sends 
the food they meet with into a tiny opening, one of 
life's first attempts at a mouth. With a little jerk, 
when the creature is still or fixed to the bottom, the 
whip drives still smaller beings than the monad itself 
into its wide-opened cavity, and there they are digested 
in a little watery bubble, which may be clearly seen 
in its body. The Noctiluca or night-glow (2, Fig. 3) 
's much larger, being often as large as the head of 
a small pin, and just below the outer rim of its slimy 
bag the sparks of light are given out. It has been 
reckoned that there are as many as 30,000 Noc- 
tilucae in one cubic inch of phosphorescent water, 
and it is almost impossible to grasp the idea of the 
millions upon millions of these tiny forms which 
must be floating over a sea which is giving out a 
glow of liquid fire for miles and miles. And it is only 
because of this light that we realise that they are there. 
There are just as many other forms in the water on 
every side of us, while we dream nothing of this 
teeming life in the midst of which we live. 

We cannot stop here to speak of the tube-sucker * 
and all his relations, which have a mouth at the end 
of every tube ; nor of the beautiful little bell-flower ft 
which may be seen in any pond or in sea-water, with 
its hanging bells whirling the food in by their little 
fringe of hairs (a, Fig. 3) ; or shutting up with the 
food inside, and starting back by curling up their 
slender stem (b) ; or splitting in two (c) and sending 
off buds (d, d], which swim away to form new colonies 

* Acineta. 1" Vorticella nebullifera. 


elsewhere. All these wondrous little beings are some 
of life's simplest children, and one and all are made 
of nothing but slime, while yet they live, and move, 
and seek their daily food. 

But all these are naked and homeless, and to a 
great extent unprotected. Gulped down in thou- 
sands and millions by each other, and by other 
animals, they are defenceless and weak against 
attacks. It would certainly be better for them 
if they could have solid shells to cover their soft 
bodies, and to protect them in many dangers. And 
so we find that even in this lowest stage of life 
necessity is the " mother of invention ;" and drops of 
slime, no higher than the thread-slime (Fig. i), have 
learned to build shells around their delicate bodies. 

These shell-builders live chiefly in the sea, and 
there you may find them if you search carefully by 
the help of a strong magnifying glass in the ooze of 
oyster-beds, or under the leaves of the delicate green 
seaweed, or in the muddy sand of the sea-shore. 
The most common forms will be those shown at a, e, 
/, and g in Fig. 4 ; and, though they are so very 
small, you may if you are fortunate see them clinging 
by their fine slime-threads to the weeds or the mud. 

These animals are, as I have said, simple slime- 
drops like the thread-slime, but they add to the list of 
wonderful things that such slime can do, for they take 
out of the sea-water, particle by particle, the lime 
which is dissolved in it, and build around their soft 
bodies the solid shell or skeleton in which they live. 
Nor is this all ; even if they all built the same simple 
shell, it would be very puzzling to imagine how they 
do it, bul they do much more. They build shells in 


many different shapes, often with the most beautiful 
and complicated patterns upon them. All but the 
simplest shells have several chambers in them, a new 
one being added as soon as the animal outgrows the 
last one ; and in the partition between each chamber 

Fig. 4. 

a, Miliolite, with a shell of lime, cf, The same, with a shell of 
Band, b, Peneropolis. c, Orbitolite. In these shells the animals 
feed only from the edge of the shell. 

d, Globigerina. e, Lagena. f, Nodosarina. g, Rotalia. A, 
Textularia. These shells are full of holes, out of which the animal 
puts threads to feed. 

there is a minute hole through which a thin thread of 
slime passes into the next chamber, so that the whole 
body is joined together throughout the shell. On 
account of these holes these lime-builders have been 
called Foraminifera from foramen a hole, fero I bear.* 

* This name is now often defined as meaning that the outside of 
the shell is perforated with holes, but the earlier use of the word as 
given here is more correct, because it applies equally to the perforated 
and non-perforated Foraminifera. 


Let us now take one of these shells (a, Fig. 4), and 
see how it was built up. The grown animal as he 
looks when the shell is taken off him is shown in 
Fig. 5. In the beginning, when he is quite young, he 
F - - is merely a round drop ( i, Fig. 5) with 

a delicate transparent shell and an 
opening, out of which he puts his 
threads of slime. Then as he out- 
grows this first chamber he draws 
his slime threads together and forms 
a bud (2) outside the shell, and 
round this bud he builds a second 

The jelly body of . . r . . - . . . 

the Miliolite, a, Fig. 4 , chamber out of the end of which 
showing the buds of he again puts his threads. Then he 
3 'U'i'ch 3 ' Sci fs the next bud (3), and goes 
chamber is built. on thus till he has built a com- 
Carpenter. pj ete ^ell, generally of seven cham- 

bers ; and as each new compartment is so placed 
as to overlap the one before it, the whole when 
finished has the curious form a, Fig. 4, altogether 
not larger than a millet -seed, from which it takes 
the name of Miliola. These miliolite shells may 
be found by the help of the microscope in the 
damp sand of almost any sea-shore, and while some 
of the shells will be empty, others will still be filled 
with the dark-yellow animal slime. 

Think of the constant manufacture of such delicate 
shells as these going on all over the world, and the 
makers but a drop of slime ! And lest you should 
be inclined to think little of it as a mere mechanical 
process, the miliolite himself tells us another story, for 
from time to time we find miliolites with shells made, 
not of lime, but of grains of sand and tiny broken 


pieces of shell (a', Fig. 4), which the little architect 
has used to build the walls of his house, when for 
some reason the ordinary material was deficient It 
seems to me that the power of this living drop to 
choose its own materials is one of the most wonderful 
facts in the history of life's simplest children. 

These miliolites and other Foraminifera when 
found clinging to sea-weed are easily placed in a salt- 
water aquarium, and they will then thrust their 
threads out of the mouth of the shell and crawl on 
the sides of the glass. Professor Schultze even saw 
a number of young miliolites born in an aquarium, 
and this was how it happened. He noticed one day 
that several of his miliolites had covered the outside 
of their shells with their brown slimy body, and a 
few days later he could see through the microscope 
a number of dark-looking specks gradually loosening 
themselves from this slime. 

There were as many as forty of these specks on 
one shell, and after a time he could distinguish that 
every speck was a tiny miliolite, having only one 
chamber (i, Fig. 5) to begin life in, the shell of 
which was so pale and transparent that he could 
see the slime within it. As soon as each one 
shook himself free from the rest of the slime, he 
put out his threads and crawled away on the glass 
to get his own living ; and now when Professor 
Schultze examined the shell of the parent miliolite, 
he found it almost empty. The mother had broken 
herself up into her little children ! 

A miliolite builds generally only six or seven 
chambers, but other forms, such as c, Figure 4, build 
hundreds of separate apartments. This particular 


form c, which is called an Orbitolite, has often as 
many as fifteen rings, each with its numerous 
chambers, even when the whole shell is only as 
large as the head of a small pin ; and in ages long 
gone by, the larger Orbitolites had a far greater num- 
ber of rings and thousands of chambers in one single 
shell. The animal builds these in the same way as we 
have seen the Miliolite do it, only after he has made 
one round of chambers with a hole in each, he puts 
out slime-threads at every hole and joins them into a 
ring with swellings in it, like beads upon a string, and 
round these he builds the next row of chambers. So 
he goes on increasing his home till he reaches his full 
size, and then Professor Parker tells us that the slime 
of the outer row often breaks up into myriads of young 
Orbitolites just as the body of the Miliolite did. At 
the same time these forms can also multiply by merely 
breaking in half as the naked Finger-slime does, and if 
by accident a piece of an Orbitolite is broken off it 
can form a new and complete shell of its own. 

If you have now understood how the Orbitolite 
grows, you will see that the only communication it 
has with the outer world is through the minute threads 
which stretch out of the holes of the chambers in the 
last ring (see c, Fig. 4), and that the slime in all the 
middle chambers can get food in no other way than 
by its passing from the outside right through all the 
other rings. This is a tedious way of getting food, 
and we shall find that some of the forms shown in 
Fig. 4 have escaped from it in a most ingenious way. 
These forms (d to h, Fig. 4) have hit upon the plan of 
keeping their thin threads stretched out like the thread- 
slime (a, Fig. i) all the time they are laying down their 


lime-house. The consequence of this is that wherever 
a thread has been, there a minute hole like a pin-prick 
is left in the shell, and while the animal can draw 
itself quite in out of danger, it can also come out all 
over the shell and take in food. Here, then, we have 
another stratagem taught by life to these her infant 
children. The slime which builds the Globigerina (a] 
or the Rotalia (g] is exactly the same as far as we 
can see as the slime which builds the Miliolite, and 
yet those drops of slime have learnt a new lesson, 
and each one as it is born stretches out its fine threads 
before constructing its shell, thus providing a thou- 
sand openings for the entrance of its food in a house 
not bigger than a grain of sand ! 

And now it only remains for us to ask how long 
these wondrous lime-builders have been upon the 
earth. We ask, and ask in vain, for we have no 
means of counting the vast ages during which they 
have lived and built. One of the largest and most 
complicated forms called the Numnm/ife (from nummus 
a coin, which it resembles), lived 
and died in such millions before Fig. 6. 

the Alps or the Carpathians had any 
existence, that whole beds of lime- 
stone thousands of feet thick and 
stretching over hundreds of miles 
are made entirely of its shells ; 
while the little Globigerina (d, Fig. 
4) and its friends were living and A Nummulitewith 
multiplying in still more dim and open.^^owLg^Ae 
distant periods till their shells accu- chambers. Life size, 
mulated into vast beds of chalk. 

When the ancient Egyptians raised the pyramids 


of Egypt, they little dreamed that every inch of the 
stone they used was made of the shelly palaces of 
the Nummulite, constructed by little drops of slime 
with a skill and ingenuity far surpassing their own. 
As little do most Parisians think now that the lime- 
stone of which their houses are built is almost entirely 
made up of Orbitolite shells. And still less does the 
country boy as he strolls over the chalk downs of 
Sussex or Hampshire suspect that the chalk under 
his feet is largely composed of shells of the Globi- 
gerina and the other minute forms shown in Figure 
4 ; yet so it is. These minute slime-builders have 
been patiently living and building for untold ages, 
and are doing so still, at the bottom of the Atlantic, 
where the Globigerina lives in such great numbers 
that the falling of the shells through the water down 
to the bottom must be like a constant shower of 
snow, as is proved by the freshness of those brought 
up in the dredge. 

When a little of the chalky mud was taken up from 
the bottom at the time when the Atlantic telegraph 
was laid down, it was found to be almost entirely com- 
posed of Globigerina shells, and this led naturalists, 
who had long known that chalk was formed of shelly 
matter, to rub down some ordinary chalk and examine 
it under the microscope, and there again was our little 
Globigerina, often crushed and worn, but still plainly 
recognisable. So that, astounding as it may seem, 
it is nevertheless true that the vast beds of chalk 
stretching from Ireland to the Crimea, from Sweden 
to Bordeaux, are in great part formed of the dead 
shells of these little drops of slime. 

We have paused so long over the lime-builders 


Fig. 7. 

that we can only glance at those minute specks of 
slime which build their skeletons of flint instead of lime. 
These animals are 
a little higher in 
the world than the 
lime - builders, for 
their body has with- 
in it a small bag or 
capsule, buried in 
the middle of the 
slime (see- Fig. 7), 
and in this bag 
the solid grains lie 
very thickly, and 
have sometimes 
small crystals a- 
mong them, while 
in the slime round 
it there are often 
little oil -globules floating. If you dip a glass 
into the quiet bays of Nice or Messina you may be 
fortunate enough to bring up one or more of these 
little sun-slimes, but they are so tiny and transparent 
that even when the light falls upon them you will 
only distinguish them as bright specks in the water. 
Their threads stick out stiff and straight, and for this 
reason they are all classed under the name Radiolaria, 
or ray-like animals. 

Let us look for a moment at Fig. 8, and study the 
solid skeletons which these Radiolaria build with the 
flint (or silex) which they find in minute quantities in 
the water. We saw that the lime-builders construct 

* Physematium. 

The Sun-Slime.* Haeckel. 

Immensely magnified, its real size being not 

larger than a mustard seed. 


shells into ivhich they can draw back entirely if they 
are attacked, but the flint-builders seem very careless 
in this respect, for they have large holes all over their 
flinty skeletons. But then, on the other hand, notice 

Fig. 8. 

Flint Shells built by slime animals.* 

Immensely magnified : the real sizes are from a mere speck to that of 
one of these letters. 

how they send out sharp spikes, which must be un- 
comfortable for any animal trying to snap at them, 
although as we have seen (p. 16) the soft thread- 

* Radiolarise or Polycistinae. a, Petalospyris ; b, Ethmosphaera ; 
c, Diploconus ; d, Dictyopodium ; e, Heliosphaera ; /, Actinomma. 


slime manages to suck their bodies out of the shells. 
Still these hard spiky outside skeletons must be a 
great protection to them, and we find every kind of 
shape devised by these wonderful architects in the 
construction of their tiny houses, though these are so 
small as to look like a grain of sand when seen by 
the naked eye. Perhaps the most wonderful of all is 
the one shown at/, Fig. 8. It is broken open to show 
the three balls one within another, each kept in its 
place by rods of flint passing through the whole. 
This beautiful little shell looks just like the carved 
balls of the Chinese, yet, instead of being the work of 
intelligent man, it is built by a mere mass of slime. 

We have now learned to know the simplest of all 
animals ; how they live, and move, and the homes 
they build. All the forms are not quite equally 
simple, for some of the higher ones have a solid 
spot or nucleus in the middle of the slime, and some- 
times a small wateiy bubble, as in the Monad or the 
Bell-flower, which contracts and expands at intervals : 
and in these forms the outside of the slime is rather 
thicker than the inside, so that we might say that 
they are on the road to having a skin, while the 
shell-builders have a uniform slimy body. But both 
classes alike belong to that first and lowest branch 
of the children of life, called by scientific men the 
Protozoa (protos first, zoon animal) or first animals. 
The still water everywhere is swarming with them, 
though we may see and know nothing of them. Yet 
we owe them something ; for not only do the dead 
shells of many of them form our solid ground, but 
those now living purify our waters by feeding upon 
the living and dead matter in them. These tiny 


slime animals are the invisible scavengers of the ocean 
and the pools, and in earning their own living they 
also work for others. When you look upon a still 
pond in some quiet country lane, the insects you see 
swimming about in it, and the plants which cover it, 
are not the only inhabitants, but on its surface and in 
its silent depths minute specks of slime are living and 
working though no eye can see them. Beautiful and 
wonderful, however, as these forms are, they are yet 
very low in the scale of life ; they live and increase 
in multitudes, but in multitudes also they die and are 
devoured. Delicate, and frail, and helpless, they are, 
as it were, but first attempts at the results which 
life can accomplish. Let us pass on and see the 
next step towards higher and, in many ways, more 
ambitious creatures. 





And here were coral bowers, 

And grots of madrepores, 

And banks of sponge, as soft and fair to eye 

As e'er was mossy bed, 

Whereon the wood-nymphs lie, 

With languid limbs in summer's sultry hours. 


HERE are certainly very few 
'people, from the little child in 
the nursery to the artist in ' his 
studio, or from the lady in her bed- 
room to the groom in the stables, 
who do not handle a sponge almost 
every day of their lives ; and yet, pro- 
bably, not one in a hundred of these 
people has ever really looked at 
the sponge he or she is using, or 
considered what a curious and beau- 
tiful thing it is. 

Yet there are at least two things 
in even the commonest sponges 
which ought at once to attract attention. If you 
take a piece of ordinary honey-comb sponge in 
your hand and look at it, you cannot help being 
struck by the large holes, few and far between, upon 


its surface, and the numberless small holes scattered 
about between them ; and on looking carefully down 
one of the large holes, you will see that it leads to a 
long tube, into which a number of small tubes open ; 
while, on the other hand, if you try to follow out any 
of the smaller holes in the same way, you will find 
that they soon come to an end, and branch out side- 
ways into each other, so as to form an irregular net- 
work of short tubes. Lastly, if you cut the sponge open 
and follow out this network, you will discover that 
it always ends by leading, sooner or later, into one 
of the large tubes. What is the reason of this com- 
plicated arrangement of holes, all opening into each 
other, and by whom has it been planned and carried 

Again, an examination of the material of the 
sponge will show that it is not a mere structureless 
mass, but is made up of delicate silk-fibres, woven 
Fig. 9. together into a kind of fine fluffy 

gauze. By putting a thin slice of 
the sponge under a microscope, 
it is possible to distinguish this 
gossamer tissue very clearly, and 
to see that it is quite loosely 
woven ; and that it is only because 
the texture is so fine, and the 

A thin fragment of a la y erS fit SO cl Sel y ne ab VC 

bath-sponge seen under the other, that, when looked at 
the microscope. f rom aDO ve, it appears a solid sub- 

stance. There is scarcely a more curious object under 
the microscope than a thin slice of fine sponge, though 
it is almost impossible in a picture to show its curious 
nest-like appearance. How has this web been woven so 


delicately ? What architect has laid the fibres so 
skilfully, and formed such a wonderful and intricate 
structure ? 

The architect is one of Life's children, whose his- 
tory we must next consider ; for though the sponge 
was long thought to be a plant, we now know that 
it is the skeleton or framework of a slime -animal, 
a little higher than those spoken of in the last 
chapter. When the sponge which you hold in your 
hand was alive, growing on the rocks in the warm 
deep waters of the Grecian Archipelago or the 
Red Sea, it did not consist merely of the soft fibre 
you now see, but was covered all over the outside 
and lined throughout, even along the smallest of its 
tubes, with a film of slime. This slime, though it 
appears to be all one mass with specks of solid matter 
here and there, is really made up of Amoebae or finger- 
slime beings (see Fig. 2), and if any little piece is torn 
off it floats in the water and puts out fingers, exactly 
as the Amoeba does. Nevertheless, in the sponge 
all these separate cells are not independent creatures, 
but form the flesh of one single sponge -animal, 
which lives, breathes, feeds, grows, and gives forth 
young ones in its ocean home. 

At the bottom of the warm seas on the Mediter- 
ranean coast or in the Gulf of Mexico these sponge- 
animals live in wild profusion, sometimes hiding in 
submarine caverns, sometimes standing boldly on the 
top of a slab of rock, or often hanging under ledges. 
Some are round like cups, some branched like trees, 
some thin and spread out like a fan ; while there is 
scarcely a colour from a brilliant orange to a dull 
dingy brown, which is not to be seen among them. 


The floor on which they grow is often as beautiful 
as they are themselves, with its covering of tangled 
seaweeds, among which live the many shelled 
creatures of the sea, while fish swim hither and 
thither, and the whole region is teeming with life 

" Of sea-born kinds, ten thousand thousand tribes, 
Find endless range for pasture and for sport." 

Such is the Sponge-kingdom, and the whole colony 
of sponges of every shape and size flourish like 
monarchs in their domain. So long as they are 
alive few can attack them and fewer conquer or 
destroy them. Only the sponge-fisher diving down 
into the rich colony disturbs its peace, and tearing 
the living sponge ruthlessly from its rocky bed, 
wrings out the living slime, and destroys the animal 
for the sake of its skeleton. 

Every three years this destroyer visits the 
sponge-colony, for he knows that in spite of his having 
carried off all the best and richest specimens, this 
interval is enough for new sponge-animals to have 
grown up so as to weave large and perfect skeletons. 

What secret then has Life taught to the sponge- 
animal, that while it is still only slime it can grow 
into such large masses and protect itself so well against 
the other inhabitants of the sea ? We will answer 
this question by tracing the growth of a sponge from 
its birth, and reading its history. 

If you wish to watch a living sponge yourself, 
you have only to keep one in a salt-water aquarium, 
for small sponges are easily found alive on our 
English coast, though they will not look like those 
we use. In this description, however, we will ima- 



Fig. 10. 

gine that we can visit one of the sponge -colonies 

in the Mediterranean Sea 

or the Gulf of Mexico, 

where the rocks from fifty 

to a hundred and fifty feet 

below the surface of the 

clear blue water are covered 

with sponges of every size, 

and shape, and texture. 

If we could visit these 
sponge - beds during the 
summer or autumn months, 
and examine carefully the 
slimy lining of one of the 
big tubes of a living 
sponge, we should find that 
minute bags of slime 
(i, a, Fig. 1 1) are begin- 
ning to appear in it, either 
scattered through the 
sponge or collected in heaps. 
These are sponge-eggs, out 
of which young sponges 
are to grow, and in many 
ways they are very like a hen's egg. Within, 
as may be seen through their transparent cover- 
ing, is something which answers to the yelk of 
an egg, with a solid spot or nucleus in it. This 
yelk begins soon to divide into two cells, or separate 
masses of slime, and these again divide into four, 
these four into eight, and so on till the egg is a 
globe of small round cells, the beginning of the 
young sponge. And now a change may be seen to 

A British sponge found at 
Brighton life-size. 


take place in those cells which lie all round the 
outside of the rest ; each one of them puts forth a 
minute whip-like lash called a cilium (from cilium, 
an eyelash), so as to form a fringe round the whole 
body, and then the young sponge, being ready to 
make its own way in the world, bursts through the 
skin of the bag, and wav- 
ing its lashes, swims out 
an oval -shaped body (2, 
Fig. 1 1) into the sea. 

Here, you will notice, 
we have a body, not 
, made as in the simplest 

The birth of the Sponge. Adapted . 

from Carter. slime-animals of a mere 

1, Sponge-egg, a, The yelk within piece of slime, but COm- 

the envelope, b. posed of a number of 

2, Young sponge swimming, c, n ,. , 

Nipple projecting, where a large cells, the inner ones round 

hole will, afterwards form, d, Root- and without lashes, like a 
cells by which the young sponge p. rouo o f Amcpha while 
afterwards fixes itself to the rock. S rou P * ** WCCDd, wni 

the outer ones, each with 

his little whip, are like a colony of monads (see Fig. 3), 
surrounding the animal. 

By means of these it swims along and feeds ; and 
as it grows, a small nipple, c, afterwards to become a 
hole, appears at the tip, while a group of larger cells (d} 
collect at the hinder end. By means of these cells 
the little animal attaches itself to the spot where it is 
to spend the rest of its life, sometimes to a pebble, but 
generally to the solid rock. Small sponges often fix 
themselves to living shells, and Dr. Johnstone tells us 
that he met with a sponge on the back of a crab, 
which walked about quite unconcerned with its light 
burden, though it was many times larger than itself. 


Having settled, the young sponge now spreads 
itself out upon the rock, and grows and builds up its 
fibrous skeleton, while its surface becomes irregular 
and full of large and small holes, and the true sponge 

And now comes the curious part of the story. 
As the sponge grows larger it is clear that the cells 
in the middle of its body must be more and more 
Fig. 12. 

Development of a young English sponge.* Adapted from Carter. 

3, The swimming sponge of Fig. 1 1, which has now fixed itself. 4, 
The same with water squirting from the hole now formed. 5, The 
same further developed. 6, The perfect sponge with small holes, 
where the water enters, and large holes out of which it is squirted. 

shut out from the surrounding water out of which 
food can be taken, and yet these cells want feeding 
as much as those outside. In order to bring this 
about, the sponge-animal, instead of growing up as a 
solid mass of slime-cells, arranges the silky fibres of 
its skeleton in such a manner as to leave a number of 
small canals or passages throughout its body, and these 
open, as we have seen, sooner or later, into large canals 

* Halichondria simnlans. 


or main thoroughfares, while the slimy sponge-body is 
spread out as a thin film along them all. In this 
way it is possible for the sea-water to reach right 
throughout the whole body of the sponge along the 
various canals. But if this water only lay still from 
day to day, no fresh food could be brought, and the 
whole \vould become stagnant and bad. The animal 
cannot feed or even breathe unless a constant fresh 
supply of water, full of oxygen and living beings, is 
driven through the canals. 

How is this to be done ? 

At first sight it seems as if the young sponge 
were behaving very foolishly in this matter, for no 
sooner has it settled down than it draws in all the 
whip -like hairs outside its body which we should 
have thought would be useful for driving in food, and 
becomes a mass of smooth slime-cells with large and 
small holes scattered here and there. Still, as the 
water goes on pouring out at the big holes (see Fig. 
1 2), it is clear that it must be going in somewhere; and 
on cutting open the living sponge and watching it 
at work the secret appears. Here and there through- 
out the narrow canals of the skeleton are to be found 
little chambers, like two saucers face to face (i,Fig. I 3), 
and in these are arranged in rows a number of whip- 
like cells, exactly like those which were before outside 
the sponge. It is the whips in these cells which do 
the work required. Waving ceaselessly to and fro, 
they drive the water before them always in one direc- 
tion, so that it is drawn in at the small holes (a a, 
Fig. i 3) and driven out at the large ones (b ti). By 
means of this wonderful contrivance fresh sea-water 
full of oxygen and living plants and animals is 


always pouring along the small canals, bringing air 
and food to each cell along the road, while the bad 
water out of which the slime has taken all the oxy- 
gen, and into w r hich it has thrown the hard parts and 
refuse of its food, is driven out at the large holes, 
carrying away with it all that is hurtful and useless. 

Fig. 13. 

Section of an ordinary bath sponge. Murie. 

a a a, Small holes where the water enters, b b, Large holes where 
it flows out. c c, Chambers with whip-cells which drive the water on. 
I, A chamber enlarged showing the cells. 2, 3, Different forms of 

And now we can understand why the sponge, 
though a mere slime-animal, is classed as the pioneer 
of the second division of living animals ; because in it 
quite a new plan of structure has begun. Starting from 


one egg,the whole sponge is one single individual ; yet, 
when grown up it is not a mere mass all doing the same 
work, as in the simplest animals, for it has learnt the 
secret of division of labour; and while one set of cells, 
those forming the smooth slime, are busy taking in 
food, the other and whip-like cells are foraging for this 
same food and sweeping away the refuse ; and, be- 
tween these two, a special layer of smooth cells is 
employed in building up the skeleton which supports 
the whole body. 

If we knew only the grown-up sponge, we might 
look upon it as a society of two kinds of slime - 
animals living together and building a common house. 
But when we consider that each whole sponge comes 
from a single egg, growing and dividing like one of 
the eggs of the higher animals, and that any piece 
of a sponge-animal is able to settle and grow up 
into a perfect sponge with the two kinds of cells, we 
see that these animals have made a great step never 
again to be forgotten by the children of Life. They 
have learned to form in one body two kinds of cells 
with different duties, which, by their mutual labour, 
carry on in one being the work of life. 

We are now, I hope, able to picture to ourselves 
the sponge growing upon the rocks in deep water, or 
sometimes in shallow pools, or between the tide- 
marks, looking like a smooth mass of slime of 
different shapes, with holes invariably open as long 
as it is under water, but closed (as we shall find on 
the English shores) if the sponge is by chance left 
high and dry by the tide. We can imagine to our- 
selves the small fountains of water spouting from 


the larger openings, and carrying off the refuse from 
the inside of the sponge, and we can fancy we see 
the small chambers buried in the canals with their 
active inmates lashing the water onwards in its course 
through the whole mass. 

But we have yet to consider the skeleton of the 
living animal, and why so much time and labour 
should be spent in forming it. There are two 
reasons why a solid framework is useful to the 
sponge-animal. First, it supports the large mass of 
soft slime, and enables it to spread itself out in thin 
layers, so as to touch the water in the canals ; and, 
secondly, it protects it from enemies. 

There are a few sponges made entirely of slime, 
the canals and thoroughfares being in the slime itself; 
and in these, when the animal dies and decays,nothing 
solid is left behind. But such sponges have probably 
become degraded and have lost their skeleton, and they 
are clearly under a disadvantage, for the walls of slime 
are forced to be much thicker, and food cannot reach 
them so easily ; and besides this, when we remember 
how many sea-animals feed on living slime, we can- 
not but see that these sponges offer a very tempting 
feast. Comparatively large animals, such as shrimps 
and fish, will take big mouthfuls out of them, while the 
water-fleas and smaller sea-worms which are carried 
through their canals, are quite as ready to eat the 
slime as the slime is to eat them. But if the sponge 
can offer a very tough and unpalatable mouthful, or 
can prick its enemies' mouths with a sharp point, 
they will not be so ready to take a second bite ; and 
so it comes to pass that we find in sponges some of 
the most curious weapons imaginable. 



Fig. 14. 

The sponges we use are by no means the first 
attempts at sponge-skeletons ; on the contrary, they 
represent the highest art in sponge-building. The 
simplest kind of sponges build their skeletons of 
lime and flint, as did the earlier slime-animals. Fig. 
14 is a picture of a lime -sponge. Here the outer 
layer of sponge -flesh has taken in lime and built 
up with it a number of little pointed spikes or 
spicules, which lie buried in the 
slime. The rest of the sponge is 
composed entirely of the sponge- 
animal, the outer cells being smooth 
and the inner ones whip-like, so 
that water and fojod are drawn in 
at the small holes in the sides, 
while the refuse is driven out at the 
large hole in the top. 

Now suppose that a fish attacks 
this sponge, instead of a mouthful 
\ of soft slime he will bite upon a 
number of minute sharp points 
| which he will carry away sticking 
to the soft lining of his mouth, 
and the next time he sees such a 
sponge growing, he will hesitate 
before touching it. In some 
Sponge with lime sponges these lime-thorns are so 
spicules forming the arranged that they lie flat against 

a complete hedge of spikes round 
the holes when it is taking in water, showing that it is 
not only against the fish that it is protecting itself, 

* Ascctla primwdlaUs, 


but against the smaller but dangerous animals, which 
might be washed into it. In another sponge the spic- 
ules point towards the mouth at the top, so that any 
creature which has got in can be easily thrown out 
but one trying to get in would be spiked directly. 

Lime - sponges 
are to be found in 
most parts of the 
world, and some of 
them are very beau- 
tiful from the ar- 
rangement of their 
spicules. But these 
look, after all, like 
mere rough attempts 
at spike - building 
when compared with 
the wonderful spic- 
ules which are made 

by the flint -build- Spicules of flint found in the flesh of 
ing sponges. flint -sponges. Real size a mere speck, 

Fig. I5 shows almost invislble to the naked e y e> 
only a very few of the forms of flint spicules which 
are known. They look, under the microscope, as 
if the sponge -animal were an artist trying how 
many curious patterns he could invent ; and yet 
Dr. Bowcrbank has shown that each of these 
shapes has some special use, either in keeping out 
enemies, in supporting the sponge, or in spiking and 
entangling the smaller animals which form the food 
of the sponge-animal. Often as many as from three 
to seven different shapes may be found in one single 
sponge, forming by their combinations intricate and 


beautiful patterns. Yet each one of these spicules, 
perfect and complete in form as it is, is so small as 
to be barely visible as a speck to the naked eye, and 
so transparent that when mounted on glass for the 
microscope it is impossible to detect even a group of 
them without a lens. 

In Fig. 1 6 may be seen three kinds in their natural 
position in the flesh of the sponge, the large ones 
binding the sponge together, and the small feathery 
and anchor-shaped spicules protecting the flesh ; and 
jr ig j6 small as these last appear, 

yet they are even now 
magnified 100 times. 
Lastly, in the higher flint- 
buildingspongesthe archi- 
tect gets beyond mere 
separate spicules, or binds 
them together so skil- 
fully with fine, transparent 
flint threads that they 
form a network of wond- 

A piece of a flint-sponge with the , T . . 

tarcode or flesh, magnified 100 times. ro "S beauty. Looking at 

From life. the marvellously delicate 

Venus' basket (Fig. 17) which grows in the seas 
near the Philippine Islands, it is almost impossible to 
persuade ourselves that the flint-lace of which it is made 
has been constructed by an animal with no eyes to see 
the beautiful pattern it was weaving, and no machinery 
in its body with which to direct the web; and that out of 
mere slime cells has arisen a fairy structure such as the 
most skilled human artist might try in vain to rival ! 
These sponges live chiefly in very deep water. In one 
of them, called the glass-rope sponge, the animal is 



anchored to the bottom by long flint threads, often 
several feet long, looking like the finest spun glass. 

And now we find the 
sponge-animal advancing 
yet a step farther, and 
beginning no longer to 
build entirely with lime 
and flint taken from the 
water, but to manufacture 
its own material. We all 
know that the spider spins 
its web of threads of 
gum formed in its body, 
and that the silk of the 
silkworm is made in the 
same manner, and now we 
have to learn that the 
sponge - animal with its 
simple slime cells can do 
this too! For all the 
sponges which we use are 
made of fine fibres, which 
prove, when examined, to 
differ very little chemically 
from the silk of the silk- 
worm. These fibres have 
been secreted by the slime- 
animal out of its food, and 

by crossing' and re-cross- ,. 

. y Venus' Basket.* The skeleton of a 

ing them in all directions flint-sponge. 

it forms the soft elastic 

skeleton of the toilet sponge. Yet they are not woven 

carelessly or without purpose, for we have seen that they 

* Euplcctella speciosa. 


are so arranged as to build up the small canals and 
the large tubes in their right positions; and though all 
may look confused to us, yet there is no part which the 
water cannot reach in its passage through the sponge. 
At first in the coarser sponges the fibre is thick 
and loosely woven, and though it is tough-and almost 

impossible to bite or 
digest, yet it leaves 
such large openings as 
to afford but a poor 
protection. In these 
sponges flint spicules 
are still built in with 
the fibre,scattered about 
in all directions : and, 
because of the sharp- 
ness of the spicules, 
their skeletons are of 
very little use to us. 
But little by little, in 
sponges of a finer web, 

in which the tough silky 

Cup-sponge growing in the sea. Real cu v 1 

size ; about a foot high.-//, Fignicr. fibres are so ctosely 

matted together as to 

repel all intruders, we find the sponge-animal begin- 
ning to neglect the formation of spicules, and content- 
ing itself with building in fragments of sand, making 
those gritty sponges so disagreeable to handle. And 
by and by it ceases even to do this, and in the fine 
soft Turkey sponge we find the holes so small that 
no enemy large enough to do harm could enter, while 
the densely woven fibres offer a most unpalatable and 
indigestible morsel to. any creature which might have 


the strength to tear it away ; and these, needing no 
further protection, are made entirely of soft fibre. 

Here we must leave the history of sponges and 
their lives. We have left much unsaid, for to tell 
how sponges may increase by dividing or by budding, 
as well as by eggs, would have taken us too far into 
detail ; neither could we give space to trace the 
wonderful way in which the various spicules are used 
as weapons of defence ; and for special examples of 
the different kinds of sponges you must consult works 
on natural history. We have had one chief object in 
view, namely, to see how Life in this new form has 
advanced beyond the earliest slime -animals. The 
sponge, with its two forms of cells and its division of 
labour, stands already far above the microscopic 
beings of our last chapter. Rooted to the rocks, and 
large enough to invite the attacks of enemies, it has 
yet learnt to protect itself by wonderful structures, 
to distribute its food throughout a large body, and 
last, but not least, no longer to form its skeleton 
merely ^>f flint or lime, but to manufacture in its own 
body the material with which it builds. 

It has indeed succeeded so well that Dr. Bower- 
bank, one of the best authorities on sponge life, came 
to the conclusion that sponges are able to escape 
almost entirely, during their lifetime, from becoming 
the food of other animals. It is only after their 
death that their slime serves to nourish myriads of 
minute creatures, and then the wonderful rapidity 
with which the living matter is devoured, is quite 
enough to prove to us how well the living sponge 
must have used its weapons to protect itself, while 
still it was one of Life's living children. 




" Transparent forms too fine for mortal sight, 
Their fluid bodies half dissolved in light." 

Millions on millions thus, from age to age, 

With simplest skill, and toil unwearyable, 

No moment and no movement unimproved, 

Laid line on line, on terrace, terrace spread, 

To swell the heightening, brightening, gradual mound, 

By marvellous structure climbing tow'rds the day, 

Each wrought alone, yet all together wrought 

Unconscious, not unworthy instruments 

By which a hand invisible was rearing 

A new creation in the secret deep. 


;> F among all the children of 
life we wished to choose out 
the most brilliant, graceful, and 
sylph-like creatures whose histories 
are more like fairy poems than 
sober reality, we could scarcely do 
better than select those which we 
are now going to study under the 
name of the " lasso-throwers," and 
strange as this name may appear, 
I hope to show that it is not too 
fanciful to be accurate. 

Every one knows that the long 
cord or thong called the lasso is 
the peculiar weapon of the South 
From his earliest childhood the 

American hunter 


young Gaucho learns to play with the lasso, and 
almost as soon as he can walk, amuses himself by 
catching young birds and other animals round his 
father's hut, throwing out the long lash so skilfully 
that the noose falls over their bodies and brings them 
to his feet. As soon as he can ride he carries the 
sport farther, galloping wildly over the plains swing- 
ing the cord round his head and letting fly at the 
ostriches, the wild cattle, and horses, or when he is 
a man, even at the jaguar or the puma. Such is the 
lasso as man uses it, consisting of a long cord or 
thong thrown with exquisite skill. 

Now among animals, as we have already seen, any 
weapons they are to Fi 

use must be such as i 2 

grow upon the body, 
and we should little 
suspect that a simple 
jelly-animal could be 
provided with a lasso 
ready grown within 
its flesh. Yet so it 
is. In that division 
of life's children, 
standing in rank just 
above the sponges The fresh-water hydra hanging from duck- 

we find a weapon of weed in a pond. 

,i_. i i . , I. The long-armed hydra* feeding, aw 

this kind as simple, small animals caught in its arms . 2 . Short- 
as deadly, and far armed hydrat throwing off young hydra- 
more wonderful in buds ' b b ' 
its action than the lasso of the American hunter. 
In almost any wayside pond in England it is pos- 

* Hydra fnsca. + Hydra viridis. 


sible to find, either hanging from under the leaves 
of the common duckweed, or clinging to pieces of 
floating stick, or rooted to stones at the bottom 
of the pond, a little greenish being (Fig. 19), about 
a quarter of an inch long, looking like a tube with a 
circlet of feelers at the end, which are waving in the 
water. This creature is the common pond hydra, and 
it is in fact nothing more than a tube or sac, with a 
sucker at one, end to hold on with, and a number of 
jelly-arms or tentacles at the other, which serve to 
catch its food, and to tuck it into the sac, where it 
is digested. The walls of the sac are firm and mus- 
cular, and the creature can stretch itself out, or draw 
back at will, can move along slowly by means of its 
sucker, and even float upon the water; but the most 
remarkable thing about it, and the one we wish to 
study- now, is the power which it has of overcoming 
animals stronger and more active than itself. 

Groping about with" its flexible arms, which are 
covered with fine jelly- hairs by which it seems to 
feel, it touches perhaps a water -flea, a water -worm, 
or even a tiny newly -born fish, passing by in the 
water. Instantly it twists its arms round whatever 
it finds, and though its prey may struggle vigorously 
while the hydra remains almost still, yet little by 
little the struggles cease, and the victim is drawn 
into the fatal sac. 

Now, why is this ? It is because those fine 
tender feelers of the hydra are full of lassos, which 
it can use with as good effect as any skilled hunter. 
Although to the naked eye each tentacle looks but 
little more than a fine hair, yet, when examined 
under a strong microscope, it is seen to be crowded 



Fig. 20. 

with hundreds of clear transparent cells (l, Fig. 20), 
so small that 200 of the largest of them would lie 
side by side in an inch, while many are not more 
than xsVftth of an inch long, and each of these 
cells contains a formidable weapon. Within the cell, 
lying bathed in a poisonous fluid, is coiled a long 
delicate thread, barbed at the base (2, 3, Fig. 20), 
and this thread 
may well be call- 
ed a lasso, since 
it is always many, 
and often from 
twenty to forty 
times as long as 
the cell itself, and 
only waits for the 
bag to burst to 
fling itself out to ,. Piece of one of the hydra , s arms> showing 

its full length. the cells crowded in it. 2. One of the cells. 
Now lookup- 3- The same cell after bursting open. 4. Lasso- 

cell of an anemone, 
at the hydra, Fig. 

19, picture to yourself that each of its delicate 
thread-like tentacles is crowded with hundreds of 
these lasso-cells, only waiting the word of command 
to discharge their weapons. By and by the two 
worms (a a) come within reach, and rub against the 
tentacles, instantly every cell that is touched bursts 
open, and with a spring its lasso is set free and 
shoots out, piercing through the skin of the worm. 

And now we can see where the hydra's strength 
lies. He has no need to struggle, for his victim is 
pierced by a number of darts, and the poisonous fluid 
from the cells is pouring into him. And there is 


Lasso-cells of the Hydr 


great reason why the hydra should take it so quietly; 
he does not wish to waste his lassos, for a cell once 
burst cannot be used again, and he will have to 
grow a new one for each one that he exhausts. So 
he waits patiently for the spell to work, and does 
not hug his victim too close until he is half conquered, 
and then he draws him gently in. 

So the hydra lives and catches its food without 
needing to move far from the place of its birth. All 
the summer through it puts out buds (see b b, Fig. 
19) from its side, and these buds, as soon as their 
tentacles are grown, drop from their parent and settle 
in life for themselves, so that any pond may contain 
hundreds of them ; and when the winter comes, and 
before they all die, an egg appears near the base of 
the tubes of those which are then living, and these 
eggs lie till next spring, when they are hatched, and 
produce a new generation of hydras. 

This is the simplest lasso-thrower, and I think 
you will allow that his lasso is both wonderful and 
deadly, so that, though these hydras are the only 
lasso-throwers to be found in fresh water,* it is easy 
to understand that his relations in the wide ocean 
should have made good use of the new weapon with 
which life has provided them, and secured homes and 
resting-places throughout the whole world of waters, 
and under all kinds of strange shapes and forms. 

From the North Sea to the Tropics, from the 
pools on the shore at low tide to the depths of the 
wide ocean, we meet everywhere with this division of 
" lasso-throwers." Now in the shape of large jelly-fish 

* Since the above was written, a fresh-water Medusa has been fornd 
in the tank of the Victoria Regia in the Botanical Gardens, Regent's 


covering the sea for miles and miles, so that a ship 
may sail through them during many days, the sailors 
watching their transparent domes by day, and being 
illuminated by the light of their phosphorescence by 
night. Now as tiny jelly-bells, floating like glistening 
specks by millions in some quiet bay, and breaking into 
light as they are dashed upon the beach. Or again 
in the form of horny animal-trees often two or three 
feet in height, waving their gracefully arched branches 
over the rocks in the deep water, or creeping like 
delicate threads over shells and stones and seaweed on 
the shore, where they are often mistaken for plants. 

There is scarcely a nook or cranny in the bed of 
the ocean where some of these tree -like forms are 
not to be found, associated with the beautiful sea- 
anemones, with their brilliant colours of emerald 
green, crimson, glowing purple, and vivid orange, 
which belong to this same division, as does also the 
living coral nestling in the bosom of the warm Medi- 
terranean Sea, or struggling boldly against the waves 
of the Pacific, as branch after branch is added to its 
stem by the constant labours of the tiny jelly-polyps 
spreading their gaily coloured tentacles out of every 
cup of the coral tree. 

All these beautiful creatures are " lasso-throwers." 
Scientific men call them Ccelenterata or "hollow-bodied 
animals," because of the large cavity within their 
bodies, and divide them into Hydrosoa (water- 
animals) and Actinozca (ray-like animals, such as 
the anemone), but for us it is sufficient to know that, 
with very few exceptions, they all seize their prey by 
means of the lasso, and we can pass on to learn 
something of how they pass their lives. 


It is scarcely possible to collect seaweed on any 
coast without finding upon it what look like minute 
plants (Fig. 2 I ) with frequent joints. Some of these, 
which are formed of chalk, are true plants, but others, 
which are yellowish and horny, are no less certainly 
animals, and you may soon detect these by means of 
a magnifying glass, for they will bear at each joint 
a little cup (c c\ and if you could watch these cups 

Fig. 21 

The Sea-Oak.* Adapted from Hincks. 

I. The animal-tree growing of the natural size. 2. A piece of one 
branch enlarged, showing the animal b stretching out of the horny cup 
c, and one of the egg-sacs s. 

when the creature is alive, you would see out of each 
one from 12 to 1 6 transparent tentacles (b fr) sweep- 
ing round in search of food. 

This tree-like stem. is in fact the home of a hydra 
of the sea. The creature itself is like the pond hydra, 
only that its buds do not fall off but continue to live 

* Siriularia phiuinla. 


all together, each enclosed in a cup made of a pecu- 
liar substance called chitin, which is nearly allied to 
horn, and which also forms the skin of insects. The 
whole stem is only one individual, for a fine living 
thread passes down through the bottom of each cup 
and meets all the others within the stem, so that the 
food digested in each tiny stomach goes to feed the 
whole animal. 

Here then we have hundreds of tiny lasso-throwers 
acting as mouths and stomachs to one Sertularia, as 
this specimen is called. Each mouth or polypite is 
so small as scarcely to be seen even as a speck by 
the naked eye, yet it has sixteen tiny arms, and each 
arm is crowded with lasso-cells ! 

And now in the summer months, between May 
and September, small round bags (S, 2, Fig. 2 i) appear 
scattered along the branches of this animal-tree, and 
each one of these is full of eggs ; and by and by, when 
the eggs are hatched, young sertularians swim out as 
little round jelly bodies, and settling down on some 
stone or seaweed grow up into new stems of lasso- 

It is scarcely possible to conceive the number of 
minute beings which are feeding in this way at the 
bottom of the sea. This particular sertularia or sea- 
oak coralline (Fig. 21) covers the seaweed of our 
coasts with miniature animal forests, and yet it is 
one of the smaller kinds, sometimes not more than 
half-an-inch high. Others grow on shells forming a 
fleecy covering which looks only like a little white 
moss, but which is really a group of living animals. 

Every child must be familiar with a kind of rough 
crust frequently to be seen outside old shells, but pro- 


bably few have ever thought that this is often the 
remains of the home of a lasso -thrower, any more 
than they would connect the tube-like branches on 
the seaweed with a living animal. 

Try for one moment to picture to yourself some 
quiet spot in the ocean-bed, where the whole floor is 
carpeted with such forms, and every shell and sea- 
weed carries some hundreds of tiny beings all 
stretching out their waving tentacles and flinging out 
their miniature lassos to strike their prey. You would 
see here and there among them tall, graceful, animal 
trees, such as the sea-fir,""" which often grows up into 
a brown upright tree more than three feet high, with 
branches bearing as many as a hundred thousand 
cups, each with its pure white polypite stretching out, 
and looking wonderfully delicate against the dark 
stem ; while side by side with it may be standing 
the tube-hydra,f which has single yellow pipes, 
out of each of which a brilliant scarlet creature is 
waving its graceful tentacles. All this life is active 
and busy, and yet it is all made up of beings so 
insignificant to us that we have hardly any idea of 
their existence. 

And while you were watching these thousands of 
tiny arms you might perhaps witness a strange sight 
if your eyes were sharp enough to see it. From 
an animal tree very like the sertularia (i, Fig. 22), 
except that its horny cups are borne upon stalks, 
you might see escaping some little beings looking 
like green shining bubbles, and these, if seen under 
the microscope, turn out to be the most beautiful 
fairy jelly-bells (3', Fig. 22), like pure crystal domes 

* Sertularia aipressina. t Tuliihiria indivisa. 



swimming gaily along in the water by driving in and 
out the jelly- veil (v, 3) spread across their rim. 

Anything to exceed the delicacy and beauty of 
these tiny jelly globes can scarcely be imagined, and 

Fig. 22. 

The Campanulina. Hincks. 

1. Natural size of the animal tree, s, Natural size of the sac con- 
taining the jelly-bell. 3'. Natural size of free jelly-bell floating in the 

2. A piece of the fixed animal-tree magnified. a a, Animal 
feeding, s, Sac with the jelly-bell upside down inside it. 

3. Free jelly-bell magnified, v, The veil across the bell. /, Feed- 
ing tube of the animal, m, The mouth, o, The ovary in the canals of 
the bell, b b, Coloured spots in the rim. 

as they are easily bred in a salt-water aquarium, all 
their life-history may be carefully studied. Minute 
as they are, the pulsation of the bell as they propel 


themselves along may be distinctly seen with the 
naked eye ; and when put in a drop of water under 
the microscope, all the different parts of the body, as 
shown at 3, Fig. 22, can be clearly made out. For 
this bell is a true and delicately organised living 
being. It is a new instrument which Life has 
invented for carrying the eggs of the animal - 
tree far away over the sea. While the mouths, 
a a, are busily catching food for the whole animal 
by their lassos, there has been growing on part 
of the stem a bag (S), in which this little bell has 
been formed, and when it is ready to start on its 
journey the bag opens at the tip and the bell 
struggles out. How gracefully it now drives itself 
along by shooting water in and out of the hole in its 
thin veil as it contracts and expands its rim, and 
from the water thus driven in, its mouth (m) takes 
the minute living beings, and digesting them in its 
tube t, sends the nourishment down the canals to the 
rim, and so over the whole bell ; while in the little 
bags o in the canals it forms and carries the eggs to 
be dropped down on some distant spot to grow up 
into a new animal-tree. 

Thus this minute bell is a living, active creature 
with all the necessary parts for swimming and feed- 
ing, and also for forming eggs to give birth to young 
ones by and by. Its whole body is crowded with 
lasso-cells, though it does not seem greatly to need 
them, and what is much more interesting, in many 
cases it even bears on its rim the first attempts at 
eye's and ears. 

Often the passage of these tiny bells through the 
water can only be traced by some bright spots like 


coloured gems set in its rim (b b, 3, Fig. 22). Blue, 
scarlet, orange, all the most vivid colours seem chosen 
to give them brilliancy, and inside the spots are in 
some cases to be found little grains of lime which 
roll to and fro and probably form the simplest hear- 
ing apparatus in nature, while some crystals which 
refract light are the first beginnings of eyes.* 

Is it too much to say that these minute jelly-bells 
are fearfully and wonderfully made, and that our 
imagination sinks appalled when we have to believe 
that such complex beings have sprung from the tiny 
buds on the animal-tree (i, Fig. 22) ? 

In the early summer the sea is full of these little 
bells rising like constant bubbles from the animal- 
forest below. Some are mere microscopic specks, 
others as large as thimbles, while some look like 
glass cups floating in the sea. They are all more or 
less tinted with lovely and delicate colours, and though 
an unpractised eye cannot distinguish them, yet they 
may be caught in a fine muslin net swept through 
the water and examined under a microscope, or in 
an aquarium ; while on a calm evening, when the sea 
breaks in ripples on the sand, their presence is 
betrayed by the glow of phosphorescence fringing 
the shore. 

" Figured by hand Divine, there's not a gem, 
Wrought by man's art, to be compared with them. 
Soft, brilliant, tender, through the wave they glow, 
And make the moonbeams brighter where they flow." 

And now we will rest our eyes from straining to 
c co the microscopic lasso-throwers and turn to some 

* In the higher forms of Medusze or jelly-fish the presence of nerves 
has now been clearly proved by Hertwig, Romanes, Schafer, and others. 


of the large jelly-fish of the sea ; for after watching 
the floating- bells we cannot doubt that those enor- 
mous jelly masses which we see sailing along in the 
ocean are their near relations. Indeed, those who 
swim and bathe in the sea can testify feelingly to the 
power of the poisonous lassos, for to be stung by a 
jelly-fish is no slight matter, and this sting is given 
by the lasso-cells. 

Though jelly-fish, however, are uncomfortable to 
meet in the water, they are most interesting to watch 
from a boat, or the head of a pier, as they move 
along dome foremost, with a regular movement, as if 
by clockwork. We scarcely realise how large they 
are, till coming close to them we lay an oar over 
them, and find perhaps that the dome measures a 
foot and often two or three feet across, while their 
tentacles stretch from the head to far beyond the 
stern of an ordinary boat From spring to late 
autumn they may be seen when the weather is calm, 
sailing on the water, not by means of a veil like the 
jelly-bells, for they have none, but by the movements 
of their huge umbrella, which they contract when 
storms arise, and so sink down into the depths. 
What is the history of these huge soft masses ? 

First we must notice how very little solid matter 
life has to use in building up their bulky forms, for 
when a jelly-fish of four or five pounds' weight is cast 
on shore and dried up by the sun, a film weighing a 
few grains is all that remains ; the rest was all water ! 
Yet the creature is wonderfully made. Take for in- 
stance the jelly-fish shown in Fig. 23. Its tawny, 
jellowish umbrella is full of canals carrying the 
nourishment over the whole animal. In its margin 


Fig. 23. 

rudimentary eyes and ears are covered with a delicate 
hood to shield them from harm. Powerful muscles con- 
tract and expand 
the rim of the um- 
brella, guided by 
nerves lately dis- 
covered in these 
animals, while the 
rnouth of the hang- 
ing stomach (itself 
hidden under the 
umbrella) has long, 
tawny lips which 
trail behind it like 
ribbon sea -weed, 
and are most for- 
midable weapons, 
for they are crowd- 
ed with powerful 
and poisonous las- 
so-cells. A creature 
which this jelly-fish 
has once seized in 
its lips must die, 
for even if it can 
get loose from the 
strong grasp, the 

poison works and 
it soon floats dead 
on the water. 
Shrimps, barnacles, 
even the strong 

A jelly-fish,* whose life history is given in 
Fig. 24. 

small fish 
cuttle - fish 

of all kinds, and 
and other larger 

Chrysoara hysocella. 


animals of the sea, are devoured by this ferocious 
lasso - thrower as he moves lazily through the 
water expanding and contracting the rim of his dome ; 
and if it were not that he and his fellows are the 
chief food of whales and porpoises, they would com- 
mit terrible havoc in the ocean, as they travel in 
shoals of thousands together. 

And now at certain seasons of the year, when at 
night the sea glows with their phosphorescence,"" some 
of these large wanderers drop from under their huge 
umbrella something which looks like a shower of 
dust. This shower is composed of a number of 
minute jelly-bodies (a, Fig. 24) swimming by means 
of lashes or cilia, and something like those which come 
from a sponge (see p. 38). They have been hatched 
from eggs within the umbrella of the jelly-fish, and are 
setting off into life for themselves. After a few days 
four curious knobs (b, Fig. 24) begin to appear upon 
them, and these increase every day till at last the 
swimming animal settles down on a rock and becomes 
a small hydra feeding peacefully upon minute sea- 
animals by means of its tender threads. 

This then is the young of our jelly-fish, a common 
hydra like that of the pond ! Moreover, this young 
hydra seems to forget all about its wandering parent- 
age, and often goes on for several years budding into 
other hydras, and living as though it had never had 
anything to do with a jelly-fish. 

But at last one day a change comes over some of 

* The phosphorescence is due to a glutinous fluid exuded from the 
umbrella. This fluid, when squeezed from a large jelly-fish into twenty- 
seven ounces of cows' milk, made it so phosphorescent that a letter could 
be read by the light at a distance of three feet. 


the hydras of the colony, which may be great-great- 
grand-buds of the hydra which settled down. 

They lengthen out and their bodies divide into 
rings (c and d, Fig. 24), and as these rings grow 
deeper and deeper the tentacles fall away from the 
Fig. 24. 

The childhood of the jelly-fish shown in Fig. 23. 

a, Swimming jelly-body, b, The same fixed to a rock, which may 
go on budding like a hydra and giving off forms like itself for many 
years, c, The hydra beginning to divide into rings, d, Rings becom- 
ing more perfect, e, Rings breaking off from the hydra, e', One ring 
which has turned over and begun to grow into a jelly-fish, e", The 
same developing into the perfect jelly-fish as in Fig. 23. 

top and begin to grow out below (e), and at last one of 
the rings drops off from the top, a complete saucer 
(/), and turning over so that the domed part is upper- 
most, begins to contract and expand its rim, and sails 
away a minute jelly-fish ! Other rings follow in its 
path, and the descendant of the fixed hydra has again 
become a group of wandering lasso-throwers. 

And now the floating domes begin to grow rapidly; 
in each one the umbrella thickens, the stomach with 


its huge lips begins to lengthen and expand, the 
eye-spots develop under their hooded covering, the 
tentacles sweep out into the sea, and the shoal of 
terrible monster jelly-fish is abroad again 

"all in motion 

Far away upon the ocean, 
Going for the sake of going, 
Wheresoever waves are flowing, 
Wheresoever winds are blowing." 

And here we must leave them. The history of all 
jelly-fish is not exactly alike, for they do not all go 
through the strange transformations just described. 
The beautiful purple Portuguese man-of-war, with its 
rose-tinted jelly-sail, is born a wanderer like its parent, 
and so are also the lovely " Hanging-Bells,"* which 
have from ten to twelve, and even sometimes as 
many as sixty, clear, transparent bells hanging from 
their stalk, like blossoms on a flower, while a clear 
bubble shining like quicksilver serves as their float. 
These and many others have each their special history 
for those who care to study them, and even this brief 
glance at the wandering lasso-throwers will surely 
lead us to look with more interest on the shapeless 
dying lump of jelly on the sea-shore, now that we 
know it to have been an active living animal with 
powerful weapons, sensitive nerves, and jewelled eyes. 

After following the free adventurous life of a 
travelled jelly-fish, it seems almost like visiting some 
quiet little country village, to turn to the dreamy sea- 
anemones, living from day to day in their rocky 
pools. How still and beautiful they are, with their 

* Phosplioridac. 


brilliant greens, and reds, and yellows, when, after 
lying closed like mere lumps of jelly, they open out 
into gorgeous flowers. 

The sea -anemone really stands higher in life 
than the hydra and its companions, for the tube 
of its body is double, one 
end being doubled back 
within the other so as to 
make a small sac hanging 
within a large one, while 
a hole at the bottom of the 
little sac or stomach opens 
into the body-cavity below. 
The wall of the body be- 
tween thetwobagS is divided Section of a Sea-Anemone 
into a number of narrow (^.having special darts, d, 

which shoot out when it is at- 

partitions (j, Fig. 25), upon tacked, m, Mouth, s, Stomach, 

the Sides of which the eggs showing the partitions on the 

- , sides of which the eggs are 

of the young anemones are f orme<L ff Co il of lasso-threads 

formed, and OUt of which in the stomach. t, Tentacles 

the tentacles spring as hoi- ^f are crowded with lass - 
low tubes. 

Yet it is more in the way of fleshy growth than 
in sagacity that the anemone has advanced, for in 
sensitiveness to light and power of movement he is 
far behind the floating jelly-fish. This is indeed to 
be expected, for in his quiet stay-at-home life he 
needs a strong muscular body, but not active senses, 
and so we find that while his lassos are powerful and 
many, his sight is only enough to lead him to move 
towards the light, and he shifts slowly along when he 
wishes to change his place, or floats with his disk 
upwards, without being able to choose his own path. 



His fishing and feeding powers, on the contrary, 
are very great. Any one who has placed his finger 
among the tentacles of a sea-anemone will have felt 
how they cling to it, so that it is not always easy 

Fig. 26. 

Group of Anemones. 

a a, Painted Pufflet.* 6, Snake-locked anemone. t f, Daisy anemone. J 
d, Cave anemone. e, Gem Pimplet|| 

to draw it away. The touch has in fact burst a 
number of lasso-cells, and the threads have pierced 
the flesh, though they are too fine to give pain. Mr. 
Gosse once cut off a piece of his own skin with a 
razor and put it to the tentacles of the dahlia 
anemone (Tealia crassicomis\ and when he afterwards 

* F.drvardsia calimnrf<hia. t Sagartia vidnata. 

J Szgarlia bulis. % ~<' <'' tia troglodytes. || Diutuda ^i/tinacea. 


examined it under the microscope he found it full of 
lasso-threads, standing up like pins in the skin, and 
showing what wounds an anemone can inflict. Now, 
when we reflect what a large number of tentacles 
many anemones have (a full-grown daisy anemone has 
more than seven hundred), we see that they must 
possess an almost countless number of lasso-cells, 
and that small sea animals, such as shrimps, worms, 
mussels, sea-slugs, and young fish, must fall easy 
victims to the poisonous threads. Even if any crea- 
ture is so well protected by its shell as to escape the 
darts, it is encircled by the numerous arms and thrust 
into the stomach, at the bottom of which it meets 
with another thick coil of lasso-threads (c, Fig. 25) 
which are soon fatal.'" 

In this way the sea-anemones obtain abundance 
of food, and they seem able to devour an almost 
unlimited amount. But they in 'their turn are evi- 
dently very open to attack, having such soft defence- 
less bodies ; and in fact thousands of them must be 
devoured every day by sea-slugs and other animals, for 
they multiply so very rapidly that otherwise the whole 
shore would be covered with them. A sea-anemone 
can increase in three ways, either by splitting in half, 
or by throwing out buds, or, as is most common, by 
hatching the young from eggs within its body. It is 
most curious to see in an aquarium how quickly a 
crop of young sea-anemones springs up round the old 
ones. Mr. Holdsworth found that daisy anemones 
sometimes throw out as many as 146, 160, and even 

* Mr. Charters White has told me of the case of a young fish 
struggling within the stomach of a sea-anemone and coming out unin- 
jured ; but such cases are rare, and may occur from some weakness or 
indolence in the particular anemone in question. 


300, in one day. It is very difficult to see the young 
anemones born, because they are at first so small ; 
but by careful watching they may be seen coming 
out through the mouth of their parent, sometimes in 
the shape of little hairy or ciliated swimming bodies, 
but more often as perfect tiny anemones which have 
lived inside their mother till their tentacles have 
grown. After they have been hatched among the 
partitions in the anemone's body, they generally travel 
into her hollow tentacles, and from there they are 
passed out through the mouth. Then after walking 
about a little while on the tips of their tiny arms 
they settle down and begin their life. 

The first thing they learn to do is to expand to 
find food, and this they do by taking in water at 
their mouth or through their skin and so swelling out 
the whole body. But should an enemy come by 
they soon force the water out again, and become a 
small lump, very difficult to seize. It is most 
interesting to watch an anemone when it wishes to 
expand, gradually filling itself with water, and 
stretching its tender skin till each tentacle falls in its 
place as a graceful flexible tube, and then again in a 
moment, if you touch it, the water is squirted out, and 
every delicate part drawn in within its tough hide. 

But if you touch a daisy anemone, or a cave- 
dwelling anemone, in this way you will find that it 
has another weapon of defence hidden in the body- 
tube itself. All the members of this family of 
anemones (Sagartiadcz) have minute slits scattered 
over the outside of their tube, and if you offend them 
these slits open and long white threads (d, Fig. 25) 
are shot out to strike you. These threads come from 


the coil of lassos within the body ; they are not them- 
selves lassos but long darts crowded with lasso-cells, 
and after they have punished the enemy that attacks 
them, they can be drawn in again to be used next 
time. By far the larger number of British anemones 
have these darts (called Acontia), so that we find even 
these sluggish stay-at-homes well able to fight the 
battle of life. 

But mingled in among these soft lasso-throwers 
even on our English shores we find small examples 
of a still more wonderful race, whose history in the 
warm depths of the Mediterranean and amidst the 
stormy surge of the Pacific is like a fairy poem. Who 
has not heard of the groves of lovely red coral seen 
through the clear blue waters off the coasts of Corsica 
and Sardinia ; or read of those islands which are built 
in the midst of the stormy Pacific by the delicate 
coral animal ? There, in the midst of violent foam- 
ing breakers, strong circular stony reefs, crowned with 
delicate white sand and shaded by the cocoa-nut 
palm, enclose those peaceful lagoons where 

" Life in rare and beautiful forms 
Is sporting amid the bowers of stone, 
And is safe when the wrathful spirit of storrm 
Has made the top of the waves his own." 

And the coral-animal which builds alike the- blender 
pink stem of the coral ornament, and whole islands 
of rock in the midst of the sea, is a lasso-thrower. 

In the Mediterranean he is a delicate dainty 
being, beginning life as a little jelly-body thrown out 
of the mouth of a pure white polyp growing out of a 
red coral branch. This jelly-body soon settles down 
on the sea-bottom (a, Fig. 27), and spreading out its 


tentacles (b, Fig. 27) to feed, takes carbonate of lime 
from the water, and colouring it, we scarcely know how, 
begins to build with it red spikes or spicules into its 
jelly flesh ; only into its mouth and stomach it lays no 
spicules but leaves them soft and white. Then after 
a while it begins to throw off buds, as we have seen 
the hydra do and some anemones, and each of these 

Fig. 27. 

Growth of Red Coral.* After Lacaze-Dutkiers. 
a, A young coral settling down, b, The same putting out its tentacles. 
c, The same gradually forming new mouths, d, A coral branch with 
numerous mouths. 

buds remains on the stem pure and white, while the 
jelly, full of red spicules, joins them all together 
(c, Fig. 27). And then as more and more buds are 
formed and the branches lengthen out the young 
coral becomes a coral-tree (d, Fig. 27), with all its 
buds or polypes spread out like dazzling pure white 
flowers, each with its eight rays expanded over the 

* Corc.Uum nibrnm. 



red jelly. Meanwhile in the middle of the stem the 
spicules become pressed together and form a solid 
red rod (a, Fig. 28), supporting the whole animal-tree; 
and this red rod, the scaffolding of the living lasso- 
throwing coral-animal, is all that remains after it is 
dead to be polished for us to wear. 

All round the coasts of South Italy these beautiful 
coral-animals grow and feed. A warm sea and suffi- 

Fig. 28. 

A section of a piece of Red Coral. Lacaze-Dutkiers. 
a, Solid red rod in the centre, b, One of the white jelly mouths 
with its tentacles drawn in. c, Canals round the rod. d, Red spicules 
(magnified) which are buried in the flesh e. e, Soft flesh of the coral 
coloured by the red spicules and fed by the white mouths b, 

cient water over their heads is all they ask, in order 
to flourish happily and send out plenty of young ones 
to keep up the colony ; and though they have their 
enemies in the seaworms, and in the fish which nibble 
at their tender flesh, yet, by means of their spicules, 
they hold their own, while with their lassos they catch 
their prey. 



Fig. 29. 

A far hardier and more sturdy animal is the 
builder of the white coral, as he stands out in the 

midst of the wild Pa- 
cific, the stormy sea 
dashing against his 
home, while he has 
nothing but the power 
of life and growth 
to bring against it. 
Nevertheless, he not 
only lives, but builds 
strong stony barriers, 
which shut out the rest- 
less waves, and enclose 
calm,still salt lagoons, 
in whose depths more 
delicate corals can 
nestle and flourish. 

To understand how 
the white coral builds 
its skeleton we must 
look back to the sea- 
anemone, and to the 
partitions in the wall 
of its body (p. 67). 
The white coral is in 
fact a group of sea- 
anemones all growing together, and throwing out 
buds which remain on the stem, and each bud, as it 
takes the carbonate of lime out of the water, builds 
it up in solid layers between those partitions in its 
body. If you can find at the sea-side the little Devon- 
shire cup-coral (Fig. 30), which is a single coral of this 

Piece of White Coral. 


kind, you will be able to see clearly these solid par- 
titions entirely enclosing the body. In this way the 
animal is fairly shut in, only the stomach with its 
mouth and tentacles remaining free ; and as it buds 
and buds, feeding greedily with its lassos, and laying 
down lime particle by particle out of the restless 
sea, it builds a firm skeleton, sometimes branched 

(see Fig. 29), some- 
Fig. 30. 
times solid, as in 

the brain - coral, 
according to the 
way in which the 
buds are given off 
one from the other. 
And when the 
animal dies, in- 
stead of leaving 
only a smooth stem 
behind, it leaves Devonshire Cup-Coral.* From Johnston. 
each little CUp of a, Living animal, b, Coral skeleton, 

lime in the shape f owin s the st 7 7 11 , 8 which . Ae bod y la y s 
r down between the fleshy partitions. 

of its own body. 

How these corals have lived and grown for ages 
in the midst of the stormy Pacific, while the sinking 
bed of the sea carried down the dead coral as a solid 
wall, is a story which belongs to geology. Here we 
have only to picture the living animal, tiny and tender, 
yet strong in its two great powers the power of 
catching and feeding on the creatures of the sea, and 
the power of building a solid skeleton with the grains 
of lime. In this way day by day, stretching out 
their tender arms and flinging their lassos by millions 

* Caryophyllntm Smitliii. 


and millions in the midst of the wild Pacific, the 
coral animals live and grow. In the midst of winds 
and storms they struggle on, the rough and strong 
builders without, in the open ocean, the more tender 
and delicate ones, with their bright coloured orange, 
crimson, scarlet, and purple tentacles, within the shel- 
tered lagoons ; they all make good use of the weapons 
with which life provides them, and flourish in countless 
numbers, enjoying the warmth of the tropical sea, and 
laying the foundation of solid rocks for ages to come. 
This brings us to the end of our brief sketch of 
the lasso-throwers, of which the sea is so full. Though 
we have scarcely been able to glance even at the 
leading forms, we can understand how they are able 
to maintain their ground in the struggle for life. 
One and all, they sweep the waters with their tiny 
arms, and whether as animal -trees, jelly-fish, ane- 
mones, or corals, multiply in great numbers, and fill 
the sea with beautiful active life. If only as food 
for other animals, they have their great use in the 
world, for the huge whale is greatly dependent for his 
nourishment upon the shoals of jelly-fish which throng 
the Arctic ocean, and many shell-fish and other sea 
animals feed upon the anemones and delicate polypes 
on the sea-bottom. But beyond their use to others, 
is the great fact that they live and flourish themselves ; 
like the rest of Life's children, they crowd into the 
world, and as we watch th^m during their brief career, 
we cannot but think that there is enjoyment in these 
fragile existences, as they open out so freely and 
eagerly in the depths of the quiet ocean ; and that 
from them, too, rises the silent hymn of praise for the 
gift of life, even if it have its struggles and its dangers. 





" O, what an endlesse worke have I in hand, 

To count the sea's abundant progeny, 

Whose fruitfull seede farre passeth those in land, 

And also those which wonne in th' azure sky ! 

For much more eath to tell the starres on hy, 

All be they endlesse seeme in estimation, 

Then to recount the sea's posterity, 

So fertile be the floods in generation, 
So huge their numbers, and so numberlesse their nation." 


NCE upon a time, in a quiet 
sea-bay on the south shores of 
Great Britain, five curious little 
oval jelly bodies were swimming 
about by their jelly-lashes in 
the depths of the smooth water. 
They had one and all been 
/ hatched from eggs not long be- 
fore, and their business and duty 
in life was to grow up into some 
form in which they could gain their 
living and protect themselves from 

As each one came from a parent 
of a different shape and character, it was natural that 
they should follow different roads, although they all 
worked much upon the same general plan ; and though 
they were so small as to be scarcely visible, they soon 


Fig- 31- 

began to put on each their own peculiar shape. 
No. I had not swum about for many hours before 
some lime-plates began to form in his body, arrang- 
ing themselves in the shape of a cup (a, A, Fig 31), 
and below these other and smaller plates took up 
the form of a stalk {b}. 
This went on for several 
days, while the jelly-body 
fed and swam about like 
any other living animal ; 
but it proved after all to 
be only the cradle of the 
real creature, for after a 
time the jelly-body began 
to shrink up, and the 
whole sank to the bottom 
of the sea, and a strong 
lime-plate (<:) was formed 
which fastened the lime- 

A, The jelly -animal swimming Stalk to the rock, where 
by its lashes The cup. b, The the an j mal re mained 
stem, c, The fixing plate of the 

young animal forming within. fixed, looking like a 

B, The fixed animal from which stO ny plant, and all that 

the Feather -Star (Fig. 38) after- . . , , . 

wards breaks off. remained of the jelly 

was a thin film spread 

over the stem and cup. The jelly-animal had in 
fact become transformed into a Crinoid or Stone- 
Lily, about half-an-inch high, which soon put out 
jointed arms' from its cup and fed in the water, and 
at this stage was a miniature copy of the well-known 
Medusa's Head,f which grows in the deep seas, and 

* These five figures, 31 to 35, are all much magnified, 
t Pentacrimis caput-medusoe. 

The infancy of a Feather- Star.' 



of those still larger Encrinites or Stone-Lilies, often 
more than five feet long, which we find fossil in the 
solid rocks of the earth, and which, though they look 
like the remains of stony plants were once true ani- 
mals, feeding in the seas of ages long past by whirling 
the tiny sea-animals into the centre of the cup where 
their mouth lay turned upwards to the water. 

No. 2 did not advance so fast, his jelly body had 
been from the beginning supported upon eight thin 

Fig. 32. 

The infancy of the Brittle Star-fish. Miiller. 

A, The jelly-animal swimming and feeding while the Star-fish b, 
with its rays c, is forming inside it. 

B, The young Brittle Star-fish which has swallowed the jelly and 
settled down upon the rock. 

lime rods (a a, Fig. 3 2), causing him to swim along 
somewhat in the shape of a pyramid on legs, and he 
continued to float and feed in this shape for a 
considerable time. Meanwhile, just within his mouth 
some small cells appeared which gradually .formed 
themselves into a round disc. By and by it was 
clear that a trellis-work of lime was forming over this 
disc (b, Fig. 32), and five tiny stony arms (c} began 
to grow out of it like the rays of a star. Still, how- 
ever, the jelly- animal continued to feed through its 


jelly mouth like any other living being. Then after 
a time, during which there was built up within the 
disc a stomach, a mouth, and a set of tubes for taking 
in water, the disc with its sprouting arms all at once 
dropped off its rods and swallowed up the jelly-body, 
drawing it in till only a thin film was left over the 
stony star. Then, after swimming about for a little 
time, it settled down upon the rock and wriggled 
about, a tiny Brittle Star-Fish (B, Fig. 32). 

Infancy of the common Star-fish. Rymer Jones. 

A, Jelly-animal swimming about and the star-fish forming within it. 
A', The star-fish settling down. B, The same assuming its true shape. 

No. 3 followed much the same course as No. 2, 
except that his jelly-body had no rods in it, but 
took a number of curious shapes and swam about 
briskly, while within was formed a young creature 
with a network of lime over his back (A, Fig. 33), and 
a number of small soft transparent tubes under his 
body. After a time the whole fell to the bottom of 
the sea, and this little creature also swallowed his jelly 
body, and becoming a tiny yellow rosette with five 
knobs sticking out of it, glided quickly away over 
the rocks, carried along by the little tubes under the 



rosette. It went on growing for two or three years, 
lengthening the- five knobs into pointed rays, and 
became the common Five- Fingered Star-fish. 

No. 4 took a different road from any of the three 

Fig. 34- 

that had gone before him. He 
too had long thin rods in his 
body, all pointing one way, 
so that his body looked like 
a painter's easel, and at the top 
of the easel a number of fine 
plates of lime began to form 
in the shape of a tiny round 
box (b, Fig. 3 4 A) with prickles 
all over it ; and by and by this 
box sucked up the jelly-body, 
leaving only a thin film over its 
shell, and sinking to the bottom 
a tiny Sea-Urchin, burrowed 
a hole for itself in the sand. 

Lastly, No. 5 did not form 
anything solid within its jelly- 
body, but growing a stomach 
and feet, and other soft parts, 
stretched itself out into the 

Shape Of a sausage, put OUt . A, The jelly-animal with 
, -,., , , its lime-rods a a, swimming 

some leaf-like tentacles round about and feeding while the 

its mouth (B, Fig. 35), and lay- tiny sea-urchin *, is forming 

ing down some spikes of - *T**-- 

lime in its skin, became a 

little worm -like creature with tiny tubes for feet, 

the young of the Sca-Ciicumber>\ and soon found 

Infancy of a Sea-Urchin.* 

* Echinus. 

t Holothuriadae. 



Fig- 35- 

some crack in the rock in which to hide its soft 


These five animals the stone-lily, the brittle-star, 

the common star-fish, the sea-urchin, and the sea- 

cucumber, which grow up so curiously, each within 

an active feeding 
jelly being,* are 
the five types of the 
" Prickly-skinned" 
animals t which 
form the third 
division of the 
animal kingdom ; 
and the history 
of their lives will 
give us a very fair 
idea of the imple- 
ments and wea- 

Infancy of a Sea-Cucumber 
A, A jelly-animal swimming and feeding 

, j- . . . r 

a, small sea-cucumber forming inside. B, division, and of 
The young sea-cucumber with the leaf-like the peculiar walk- 

lubffeet r Und US m Uth ' Walking n hS in & apparatus 

which belongs al- 
most exclusively to this branch of life's children. 

Passing by, for a moment, forms I and 2, which 
we shall understand better presently, let us first visit 
the common star-fish after his arms are full grown, 
as we sometimes find him on the sand of the sea- 
shore thrown up by the waves. A strange and 

* The jelly animal does not always swim about in the water 
while forming its future body. Some star-fishes and sea-urchins carry 
their young in a kind of pouch or tent till they have taken shape. 

t Echinodermata, or hedgehog-skinned. 


weird life he leads, clinging to the wet roofs and sides 
of caverns, or hiding under large stones, or wandering 
over the sand at low tide with the water rippling 
gently over his body : the sea must appear to him 
in a very different light from what it does to the 
coral-builders or jelly-fish, as they wave about their 
soft tentacles and bathe them in the element they 

For the real interest of the star-fish is not in the 
sea above, but in the solid ground below. He cares 
for the water only that he may get oxygen out of it 
to breathe, for though he can swim when it is neces- 
sary, yet he is really a creeping animal, and loves to 
climb over the rocks, or poke about the sandy bottom 
with his mouth down to the ground, feeding on mus- 
sels and other shell-fish wherever he can find them. 

No ghost could glide more smoothly or with less 
noise than he does as he wanders dreamily along, 
and when he comes to a wall of rock or a hollow in 
the sand he does not avoid them, but bends his body 
over the one or slides down the other, hugging the 
ground closely as he goes. And yet the machinery 
by which he moves is nowhere to be seen, nor will 
you be able to guess how it works, till you pick up the 
first living star-fish left upon the shore as the tide 
goes down, and put it into a glass pan or jar of salt 
water. Then you will be able to watch this curious 
movement through the glass. At first he will lie 
helplessly at the bottom, but very soon, although as 
you look down upon him you will not see any special 
part move, the whole body will begin to glide slowly 
along. Now lift the jar and look at the under part 
of the body. You will see hundreds of tiny trans- 

8 4 


parent tubes moving in the groove under each of his 
five rays (A, Fig. 36, and 1 1, Fig. 37). The whole of 
the under part of his body will be waving like a field 
of corn, as each tube-foot in its turn is stretched out, 
bent forward, and fastened to the glass. Then after 
drawing the body a little on, it will loosen again and 
collapse into a mere knob, while another will lengthen 
out and take a hold. In this way, as tube after tube 
draws it forwards, the body of the star-fish will be 

Fig. 36. 

A, The common five-fingered Star-fish.* The dark round spot 
between the lower rays is the water-hole. B, The Brittle Star-fish, t 

carried easily along the bottom or up the sides of the 
glass like a canopy resting upon the heads of more 
than two thousand bearers. 

And now if you look in the centre of the under 

part of his body you will see a small opening with 

the skin puckered up round it. This is his mouth 

(m, Fig. 37), and if ycu place a small mussel or lim- 

* Uraster rubens. f Ophiocoma bellis. 


pet against the glass on his road you will see a curious 
sight. He will glide gently over it as though it were 
a mere stone, till his mouth is just above it, then the 
middle of the body will rise a little, and the feet all 
round the mouth fixing themselves firmly to the 
mussel will draw it into the opening, where it will 
remain till all its soft body is sucked out, and then 
the empty shell will return. 

If, however, the shell-fish is too large to go into 
the mouth, the star-fish will apply its lips to it and 
often push its stomach-bag (S, Fig. 37) out at the 
opening and half cover its victim, and after a time 
when it draws back, the soft animal will be gone and 
only the shell remain. 

Fig. 37- 

, A / / P B/P 

^a^SAgAUttbA^*^, / yr 

Section of the centre and one ray of a Star-fish. Rymer Jones. 

A, The central body. S, The stomach, m, The mouth, h, Per- 
forated hole where water is taken in. r, Ring round the centre through 
which the water passes to the feet. B, The ray. sf, Spines set in the 
leathery coat, c, The snapping claws, e, Eye at end of the ray. 1 1, 
Tube feet. 11 v, Vesicles or waterbags supplying the tube feet with 
water, i, Liver. 

The star-fish then is a kind of walking stomach, 
borne along by hundreds of tiny feet ceaselessly 
moving in each of its five rays, and it is the working 
of these feet which we must now explain. To picture 
to yourself the inside of a star-fish, imagine a round 
central dome -covered hall (A, Fig. 37), in the floor 


of which is a trap -door m (the mouth), and out of 
which open five stately arched corridors, one of which 
is shown in Fig. 37, which begin as lofty galleries 
and end in a point where a tiny window e vs. set. 
The roof and floor of the corridors are built of deli- 
cate white columns and arches of lime, joined by soft 
ligaments, while the walls are inlaid with star-like 
plates, and within the dome, and stretching right 
out into each corridor, lies the soft body of the ani- 
mal (S, z, Fig. 37), with its digestive organs. The 
delicate telegraph of nerves, and the water-canal, 
starting from the central hall, pass like the wires 
and pipes of our houses under the floor of each cor- 
ridor, while the numberless little water-bags which 
move the regiment of feet pierce the floor, and lie in 
the corridor itself. 

And now, how does this apparatus work ? Remem- 
bering as we do that the anemone spreads out its 
tentacles by filling them with water, we shall expect 
that something of fhis kind also happens here, only 
that we require besides to explain how the feet cling 
so firmly to the ground, for in some cases they will 
even break off from the body sooner than release 
their hold. 

If you look carefully at the back of a starfish 
you will find a little round spot (see A, Fig. 36, and 
/i, Fig. 37) lying at one side in the angle between 
two of the rays. This spot is a little plate of lime 
pierced with fine holes just like the rose of a water- 
ing-pot, and through it sea-water carefully filtered 
passes down a tube into a hollow ring (r) round the 
animal's mouth, and this ring ope'ns again into canals 
which pass along under each of the rays. Here then 


we have a regular water-supply taken in at the porous 
plate and carried along all the five rays. But we 
want next a separate cistern for each tube-foot, for 
we have seen that they move separately, and so can- 
not all be filled with water at the same time. These 
separate cisterns we find in a number of elastic bags 
or vesicles (v v, Fig. 3 7) placed along the water-canals, 
and opening into them on the one hand, and on the 
other into the tube-feet. Now when water is taken 
in at the grating h above"* the canals are filled, and 
they fill the vesicles, and each vesicle is able to con- 
tract and force its water down into its own foot-tube, 
thus stretching it out. Then the foot-tube while 
stretched at full length can, by drawing in its walls a 
little, force some water back, and so draw up the 
centre of the round cushion at the end of its tube, 
making a sucker just as a schoolboy does with wet 
leather on a pavement ; then the foot holds fast. 
Lastly, by drawing up the muscles which run down 
the tube, the body is drawn on, the sucker released, 
and the foot pulled back to begin again. 

This is how the star-fish walks, and when we re- 
member how many hundreds of feet he has, how 
firmly each one holds, and how slightly it moves, we 
cease to wonder that he glides so smoothly and clings 
so firmly to the rock. He is a greedy creature, whose 
whole care is his stomach, and he will eat any animal 
food he can find, from small crabs, shell-fish, and 
other sea-creatures, to mere garbage and decaying 
matter, so that he is very useful as a scavenger of the 
sea. He in his turn is eaten by the cod, the haddock, 
and other fish, but he is better protected from smaller 

This grating is called the Madreporiform tubercle. 


enemies than would appear at first sight. His thick 
skin contains a network of hard scales which will 
turn the edge of a knife if you try to cut it, while 
pointed spines (j/) stand in ridges on his back, and 
on the sides of the rays, thus protecting the tube-feet. 
But the most curious weapons he possesses are a 
number of minute claws, like birds' beaks mounted 
on stalks (V, Fig. 37), which stand round his spines, 
and twist and snap continually as long as he is 
alive. The only use that has yet been found for 
these curious weapons is to clear the skin of the 
star-fish from the seaweeds and small animals which 
would certainly fix themselves on such a sluggish 
animal if they were not picked off. We shall see 
presently in the sea-urchin that they are sometimes 
very active in this work. 

And now as the star-fish plods on his way along the 
sea-bottom, thinking only of the creatures over which 
he can spread his capacious mouth, what has he to 
tell him of coming danger ? How shall he be warned 
if the shadow of an enemy is passing over him, or if 
he is venturing too rashly into the broad sunlight 
where his bright colours might attract dangerous 
attention ? If you notice any star-fish when it is 
alarmed or finds itself in strange quarters, you will 
see it curl up the tips of its rays, and there under 
the point of each ray (e, Fig. 37) may be seen with a 
magnifying glass a thick red spot seated on the ex- 
tremity of a nerve, and having in it as many as from 
100 to 200 crystal lenses surrounded by red cells."* 
Here then we have a far better eye than that which 
we found in the jelly-fish, and it is no wonder that 

* Haeckel, 1860. 


the star-fish is so quick in finding food, or enrages the 
fishermen by discovering the bait which they put for 
other animals, for it turns out that this heavy, stupid- 
looking animal is much more wide-awake than he 
appears. In many cases a soft lid or feeler hangs 
over the eye-spot, giving to it a curiously intelligent 
look, and Professor Forbes relates how once when a 
beautifully delicate star-fish called the Lingthorn fell 
to pieces as he tried to lift it out of the water, this lid 
at the end of one of the arms "opened and closed with 
something exceedingly like a wink of derision." 

Our first walking animal then is by no means a poor 
or feeble creature ; he has chain-armour woven into his 
leathery skin, with sharp spikes and snapping claws to 
protect him, a good digestion and a capacious mouth 
to feed his greedy stomach, a good array of nerves, 
quick feeling and eyesight, together with a wonderful 
apparatus for moving over the ground ; and when we 
add to this that if he loses any of his rays he can 
close over the wound and grow a new limb, we see 
that his powers of living satisfactorily are very great. 

We must not suppose, however, that the curious 
walking apparatus of the star-fish is perfect in all his 
relations, or that they all walk by means of suckers, 
any more than all sponge-animals can build a toilet 
sponge, or all slime -animals make fine chambered 
shells. The rosy feather-star for example (Fig. 3 8), as 
it sits clasping the rock or a bunch of sea-weed, with 
the fine strong tendrils which grow out of its back, 
waving its arms like a group of brilliant red plumes 
spotted with bright yellow, has no need to use any 
feet-tubes, though it is a star-fish, and those which 
it has, probably serve merely as a help in breathing. 


You will at first be puzzled to think how this 
feather-like fixed animal can be a star-fish at all, but if 
you examine it carefully, you will find that it is indeed 
one, only turned upside down. Its back, which is 
held down to the rock by some claws (c) which grow 
upon it, forms a cup in which lie the soft parts of its 

Fig. 38- 

The life of the Feather- Star. 

A, Young of the Feather-Star before it has separated from its stem. 
B, Full-grown Feather-Star.* r, Rays, c, Claws, m, Mouth. 

body, with a mouth (m), in the middle, of course 
turned upwards, and surrounded by tentacles. Its 
five arms have divided each into two, making ten 
stony jointed rays (r), and on these a number of 
finer jointed filaments give the appearance of feathers. 
Within a groove of each arm lie the feet-tubes, but they 
have no suckers, for the feather-star rarely walks, and 
then only wriggles in a clumsy manner, something 

* Antedon (Comattila) rosacea. 


like a brittle-star. It usually remains anchored, feed- 
ing on the minute beings in the water, which it drives 
into its mouth by hundreds of cilia or jelly-lashes 
which line the grooves of the arms. 

It does not care to move at any time, though it 
can swim gracefully through the water when disturbed 
from its hold. But in its infancy it was not even 
free to do this, for the lovely feather-star is nothing 
more than the cup of the little stone-lily (A, Fig. 38 
and Fig. 31), which has broken from its stem and 
grown up into a free animal. In the early spring you 
may find it in its infant state in the quiet bays of our 
west coast or of Ireland, like a white or yellow stony 
flower, growing on fronds of seaweed, or on small stony 
corals. Its stem of jointed plates is covered with a 
film of living matter, and its cup has the stony threads 
hanging down from it, which afterwards serve as 
claws to hold it to the rock. In the autumn you will 
find it so no more. The cup (a, Fig. 31, p. 78), 
floating off its stem () will have emancipated itself 
from the race of fixed stone-lilies, and joined the 
free star-fish, thus forming a curious link between 
these two groups of animals. It still, however, keeps 
much of its old habits, and while it can swim grace- 
fully from place to place, loves better to cling to the 
nearest rock or weed, feeding upside down as com- 
pared to its new companions, and waving its deep 
red plumes, a harmless thing of beauty. 

Not so, the brittle-star (B, Fig. 36), which, as we 
saw in Fig. 32, was a free being from the first, and is 
as voracious as the common star-fish, and much more 
active. In some ways, however, it is like the feather- 
star, for it has strong jointed suckerless arms and 


feet, which it never uses for walking, although it 
fills them through a porous plate like the star-fish. 
Its soft body too is all contained within the round 
cup in the centre, and its arms do not open out of 
it as in the star-fish, but are joined on ; and this may 
partly explain why it so often flings its arms into a 
hundred pieces when frightened ; for it can afford to 
part with them, and can soon form them again. 

As tools and weapons, however, they are most 
useful, and the reason why the brittle-star does not 
use its tubes as feet is that its arms are quite 
sufficient to carry it along. Made of a number 
of small plates joined together by elastic muscles, 
and fringed with hooks and spines, these stony rays 
serve both as walking and feeding apparatus. The 
animal twists them to and fro in all manner of 
contortions, and in this way is carried over the rocks 
at a surprising pace, while it can bury itself in the 
sand and mud with the greatest ease, or wriggle into 
the smallest crevices if it fears to be attacked. 

If the star-fish is remarkable for its smooth gliding 
motion, the brittle-star is the prince of wrigglers, and 
must escape many dangers by its bewildering activity. 
Indeed, we may almost fancy that its enemies may 
be as startled at its wild contortions as the fishermen 
were who dredged the brittle-stars up for Professor Ed- 
ward Forbes, and begged to be allowed to throw them 
back, saying, " the things weren't altogether right ! " 

On the other hand, there is little doubt that they 
use their arms to carry food to the mouth, and one 
of this family called the " Basket-Fish," * has its rays 
so branched and curled that they interlace, forming 

* Shown in the left-hand corner of the Frontispiece. 


a stony network in which crabs and small fishes are 
entangled and so caught for food. 

Here we have then three types of prickly-skinned 
animals all bearing rays, and all having the same pecu- 
liar water-tubes, yet each of them has his own differ- 
ent life, the feather-star, scarcely yet caring for his 
freedom, feeding almost in the same way as the 
polyps do among the lasso-throwers ; the brittle-star 
with his active restless arms wriggling into cracks 
and seizing young crabs and shell-fish in his grasp ; 
and the gliding star-fish with its thousands of tube- 
feet, creeping over its victims and carrying havoc 
wherever it goes. 

But we have by no means yet exhausted the 
quaint designs of this ray- like structure ; on the 
contrary, we come now to the most fantastic and 
whimsical creatures, not only among the tube-footed 
animals, but perhaps among all the inhabitants of 
the sea. 

Is it because the sea-urchins know themselves to 
be as grotesque as the goblins of fairy tales, and as 
uncanny as rolled -up hedgehogs seen in the dim 
moonlight, that they hide themselves so persistently 
in the cracks of rocky pools, or bore holes in the 
limestone in which to hide their prickly bodies, or 
wrap themselves up in seaweed packed deftly between 
their spines ? Or is it not more likely that they 
know too well the brittleness of their formidable 
looking spines, and either keep out of the way of the 
rolling waves and currents or protect themselves from 
their violence by a padding of soft seaweed ? 

Be this as it may, they are not always easy to 


find alive, unless by those who know their haunts 
under large stones on the sand, or who fish for them 
in deep water ; yet they are plentiful on all our 
coasts, and most people have picked up fragments of 
their shells upon the beach. When they are found, 
however, and placed in salt water, they well repay 
the trouble of a search, if only because they are so 
different from anything we have seen before. 

Imagine a hedgehog rolled up tightly into a ball 
and beginning to walk along, not on his feet, but on 
the tips of his spines as if on stilts, and putting out 
here and there long fine tubes like threads of gutta- 
percha to anchor himself on his road, and you will 
have a fair picture of a walking echinus or sea-urchin, 
as he moves slowly along an aquarium or over the 
rocks on the sea-shore. There is something singu- 
larly whimsical in the 
movement of this prickly 
ball as it gravely lifts 
some of. its sucker- feet to 
plant others, guiding it- 
self the while by its 
movable spines. Each 
spine looks so knowing, 
turning itself round by 
its ball-and-socket joint, 
apparently making its 
own little excursions 

ASea-Urchin*walkingonarock. w i t h OU t regard to what 

'' Walk!ng tubes ' the other spines are doing; 
and in large specimens, 
where the little claws can be seen round the spines 

* Echinus sjbhara. 



- 40- 

twisting and snapping incessantly, the effect is more 
comical than can be expressed in a description. 

But our sea-urchin is something more than amus- 
ing, he is a most wonderful example of how animals 
can be built upon the same plan, and yet so altered to 
suit their life that we should scarcely recognise them 
as relations. Looking at a sea-urchin, who would be- 
lieve that it has anything in common with the star- 
fish ? Yet if you examine it without its spines, a rough 
description will soon explain how alike they are. 

Suppose you were to take a dead star-fish and 
bend its rays backwards till they meet round the 
disc of the back ; sew the 
tips there, and then sew 
the five rays together up 
the sides so as to form a 
ball flattened in the mid- 
dle, you would then have 
the mouth of the animal 
(m, Figs 37 and 40) un- 
derneath the ball, and the 
five rows of feet (A, Fig. 
36, /A, Fig. 40) running A Sea . Urchin after its spines have 

Up it, While the edge of been rubbed off. 

each ray where there are m , Mouth, fh, Foot -holes 
no feet would touch throu g h which the alkin g tubes 

pass, wn, The water hole, e, Eyes, 
the edge of the next S} Sockets of larger spines. 

ray, making two rows of 

footless strips between each group of suckers. If 
you could now blow out this ball so that the mouth 
and back were some distance apart and the whole 
was round, this would roughly represent our sea- 
urchin without its spines. 


We see, then, that the tiny urchin which came out 
of the jelly-animal No. 4 grew up strictly according 
to the true ray-like (or radiate) plan, and yet what a 
change he has made and what a snug home he has 
formed round his body ! 

By laying down plates of lime within his soft flesh 
he has built a strong box, in which all his soft parts 
are enclosed, and at the same time has managed to keep 
a complete communication with the outer world. His 
sucker-feet, which act exactly like those of the star- 
fish, lie safely within the box till he needs them, and 
then each one is put out at a tiny hole like a pin- 
prick in one of the rows (JK}. The porous plate 
(wJi) supplying them with water is at the top of the 
shell in the back, where it would be in the star-fish, 
and in the other plates near it are the openings out 
of which it passes its eggs. But where are its eyes ? 
Consider for a moment where they ought to be upon 
the star -fish plan. At the tip of each ray, and 
therefore, when the rays are turned up so that the 
tips meet round the back, they will be at the top of 
the shell, where you will find five small holes contain- 
ing eyes (e), not so perfect as those of the star-fish 
but sufficient to see light. 

Could a stronger or safer fortress have been 
designed even by the most ingenious engineer? No 
single soft spot is left bare to attack except the skin 
round the mouth, and this is always turned to the 
ground and defended by the spines projecting on all 
sides. The mouth itself is a most complicated piece 
of mechanism, with five strong teeth set in powerful 
jaws, which lie inside the shell. 

And now how is this box to grow ? The tiny 


sea-urchin left nestling in the seaweed has to grow up 
to a large animal, sometimes as big as a pomegranate, 
and yet its body is tightly shut in within lime walls. 
Look again at the shell after it is stripped of its 
spines (Fig. 40), and you will see that it is made of 
more than a hundred separate plates. While the 
animal is living these plates are covered within and 
without by a slimy film, and this film passes also 
between each plate. Now as the animal grows it 
takes fresh lime from the sea-water into this film, 
and places it, atom by atom, evenly on the edges of 
the plates, and so the shell grows with the body with- 
out disturbing any part ; and if this does not give 
sufficient room it can also add some plates to the 
top of the shell at the end of each ray. 

So the sea-urchin lives and grows, wandering over 
the seaweed beds and grazing with his powerful jaws 
as a sheep grazes in a meadow. Though the shells 
of animals are sometimes found in his stomach they 
are not his proper food, for he is a vegetarian and 
might probably almost be said to chew the cud in 
his powerful jaws, which Aristotle called by the 
curious name of " lantern " from their peculiar shape. 

He has many powerful enemies, and his shell is 
often found in the stomachs of large fish and other 
sea-animals ; so that besides his strong box he has 
great need of his spines for protection, and he can 
give very sharp pricks with them from out of his 
hiding-places when he is interfered with. His spines, 
however, serve many other purposes. They guide 
him when he walks, they help him to burrow in the 
sand, they have even been seen passing seaweed and 
other objects over his body, and they help the little 


snapping claws to clear away any refuse which may 
gather on the shell. Lastly, the sea-urchin, which, 
like the star-fish, often protects its young ones in their 
soft infancy, will sometimes gather the spines together 
at the top of its house, and so form a tent for the 
tender young urchins till they are fit to go alone. 

The snapping claws, which we found before in the 
star-fish, exist in numbers on the shell of the Echinus, 
and are very puzzling ; they are so very active and 
yet seem to do so little work. They have often, 
however, been seen passing away the little pellets of 
refuse food which come out of a hole in the top of 
the shell. These pellets are handed down from claw 
to claw till they can be dropped into the water and 
so got rid of. In the same way small worms and 
seeds of plants and other living things are cleared off 
the bristling shell by these busy little snapping beaks. 
The spines by their constant movement help, as we 
have seen, in this cleaning process, and have probably 
many uses not known to us. 

Who will say when he examines the structure and 
studies the habits of the Echinus, that this child of 
life is not a quaint, clever, wonderful, and skilful 
piece of mechanism, as it lives and breeds by 
thousands in the depths of the sea ? Any handful of 
seaweed out of a pool at low tide will contain some, 
so small as hardly to be noticed ; while from the 
rocky depths of the Mediterranean the fishermen 
bring up large ones in order to sell their bunches 
of eggs for food. Yet, as they stand in the Italian 
markets feebly moving their spines round and round 
in search of some of the old familiar objects in their 
sea -home, how few people stop to examine the 


curious box or to think of the history of its dying 
architect ! 

And now, what has been happening all this time 
to the small worm-like creature No. 5, which we left 
hidden in the rocks ? You will have to search well 
in the crevice of some dripping cavern only lately 
deserted by the tide, and there you may perchance 
find him bathing himself in a rocky pool, a large 
soft satiny sausage, purple, white, or brown, with five 
delicate stripes down his body (see Frontispiece), and 
a wreath of beautiful purple tentacles like fine sea- 
weed waving round his mouth. What connection can 
this worm-like creature have with the rayed animals ? 

Wait awhile and look more closely. Sluggish 
though he is, the Sea-cucumber does care to move 
sometimes, if only to fill his body with sand, and so 
get the particles of living matter which form his sole 
food. As he begins to glide along, see, from the 
five stripes running along his body there appear a 
number of tiny tubes with suckers (see Frontispiece),* 
by which he draws himself along. Here then are 
again our five rays of tube-feet, but this time not 
forming a star, or gathered into a ball, but stretched 
out along a soft fleshy tube. 

It would seem almost as if here life had neglected 
to arm the poor soft Sea -cucumber, or, tired of 
inventing prickly defences, had fallen back again 
upon a soft jelly-animal. But the creature is not so 
helpless as he appears, for in his thick transparent 
skin are strong muscles by which he can draw his 

* In some of the sea-cucumbers the rows of feet are all drawn 
together on the under side of the body, and this is the case in the form 
which the artist has represented on p. 82. 


body in and out much as a worm does ; and some 
species have sharp hooks buried in their flesh which 
both help them in moving and in wounding those 
who attack them. But his great safeguard is his 
power of contraction. Try some day to find a sea- 
cucumber in a crevice on the sea-shore, and then 
set to work to get him out. You will feel him slip 
through your fingers like an eel, as he squeezes the 
water out of his body and forces himself into a nar- 
row crack from which he cannot be dislodged with- 
out breaking the rock. There is a safety in pliability 
which is sometimes surer than a stout resistance, and 
where the prickly sea-urchin might fall a victim, the 
sea-cucumber effaces himself and escapes. 

A curious mixture he is of the savage and the 
cultivated animal. Though he gorges himself with 
sand, which seems after all but a coarse way of 
getting a living, yet his body is more delicately 
formed than that of any other prickly-skinned ani- 
mal, and this makes it all the more strange that he 
should have the power of throwing out nearly the 
whole of his inside, and yet living and growing it 
again. Sir John Dalyell found that a sea-cucumber 
which had lost its tentacles, its throat, its network of 
blood-vessels, its intestines, and its egg-sac, and had 
literally nothing left but an empty tube, lived, and in 
three or four months had regrown all the inside of 
its body. An animal which can exist like this, and 
is scarcely ever found with all its parts complete, 
because it has parted with some of them, and yet is 
healthy and strong, need surely not envy the brittle- 
star its stony case and wriggling arms, nor the sea- 
urchin its strong box. 


And now we have followed our five little jelly- 
bodies out into life, and have found that they have 
as much a real history as you or I have, with real 
struggles and difficulties which they can only over- 
come by using all their powers. The varieties of 
these five forms are far too many for us even to 
glance at them. There are the fixed stone-lilies of 
the deep sea, which do not become free like the 
feather-star. There are brittle-stars, from a tiny star 
with a disc as small as a pin's head, and arms like 
fine threads, to others measuring a foot and a half 
across. There are star-fish large and small, some 
like stars, others like five-sided plates, others with the 
rays turned back like a folded dinner-napkin. There 
are sea-urchins round, egg-shaped, wheel-shaped, and 
flattened, and from the size of a pea to that of a child's 
head ; while there are others from warm seas, with 
three- edged spines as thick as a little finger, and 
twice as long. A visit to any good museum * will 
show these varying forms, and though the sea-cucum- 
bers will not be so well represented, because they 
are soft animals, yet you will find the Trepangs of the 
Chinese, with their black leathery coats, and others 
which are covered with plates of lime. The beauti- 
ful Synapta, which lives in our English Channel, with 
its lovely rose-coloured tube, and its anchor-bearing 
shields, you will not so easily find, for it is so brittle 
that it is very difficult to preserve. This lovely 
creature, often a foot and a half long, shelters itself 
by a tube of sand built in rings by its tentacles, and 
passed down over its body by the microscopic anchors 
buried in its soft flesh, and by these anchors it also 
* The British Museum has a very fine collection. 


draws itself in and out, showing a new expedient used 
by an animal in which the tube-feet are wanting. 

These and many other wonderful adaptations are 
open to all to study, but we must not linger over 
them here. One marked step we have made in this 
division we have advanced from mere floating or 
fixed animals to creatures able to wander freely over 
the floor of the ocean. The children of life have 
now got their feet upon the ground, but not yet 
their heads above water. In fact they have as yet 
no heads to put anywhere. Eyes, ears, mouths, and 
feet we have met with, but no heads, nor have any 
of these animals been able to live out of their watery 

But soon a new prospect opens before us, and in 
the mollusca or soft-bodied animals, and the worms, 
we shall begin to enter upon earth-life. Not sud- 
denly, however, for all new powers are of slow growth, 
and through many chapters yet we shall find the 
largest number of each group clinging to their old 
ocean home, and only here and there air-breathing 
and head-crowned forms mingling in the throng. 





See what a lovely shell, 
Small and pure as a pearl, 
Lying close to my foot, 
Frail, but a work divine, 
Made so fairily well, 
With delicate spire and whorl, 
How exquisitely minute, 
A miracle of design. 

The tiny cell is forlorn, 
Void of the little living will 
That made it stir on the shore ; 
Did he stand at the diamond door 
Of his house in a rainbow frill ? 
Did he push when he was uncurled, 
A golden foot or a fairy horn, 
Thro' his dim water- world ? 


F all our many playthings 
when we were children, were 
there any we loved better or 
cherished longer than the shells 
which we brought home from the 
seaside, and each of which we knew, 
not perhaps by name, but as a shep- 
herd knows his sheep, so that no 
single one could be missing without 
our detecting it ? 

They may have been only com- 
mon shells, such as the small pink- 
tinted scallops, variegated top-shells, 
small cowries, or spiral turrets, with 
here and there a delicate razor-shell, treasured espe- 

* The sea-mats (Polyzoa), sea-squirts (Ascidians), and lampshells 


cially because so easily broken. Yet we felt in- 
stinctively that they were more beautiful than any 
artificial toys, and though probably we scarcely 
thought of the animal which formed them, yet the 
delicate marking and tints of colour which each had 
left upon his house, pleased our eye more than gaudy 
pictures or painted playthings. 

And even amongst older people is there any place 
in the world where shells are not admired ? The 
savage strings them into necklaces, and so does the 
refined lady of fashion ; while there is probably not 
a house, even the poorest in England, where they 
do not figure as ornaments, from the giant conchs 
and cowries of the South Seas, brought home by 
some sailor son, to the little boxes made of our 
common coast shells. 

Now each one of these millions of shells pre- 
served in all parts of the world, as well as of the 
countless multitudes which lie crushed and broken 
on the sea-shore and at the bottom of the sea, has 
once been the home of a living animal, which was 
born wrapped in a transparent mantle endowed with 
the wonderful power of extracting lime from the sea- 
water which it has taken into its body, tinting it with 
beautiful colours, and building it up into a solid 

This wonder-working mantle which life has given 
to these soft-bodied mollusca (mollis, soft) may easily 
be seen in any common shell-inhabiting animal, such 
as the oyster or the periwinkle. When an oyster is 

(BrackiopoJa), are purposely omitted in this chapter, because although 
familiar objects, yet their structure is too difficult and their true position 
too uncertain for them to be dealt with in a book of this kind. 


opened you may see two transparent flaps, with 
thickened edges, one lying above, and the other 
below the oyster in its shell (in, Fig. 41, p. 108), 
and these two flaps are the two halves of the mantle, 
which, when they touch, enclose the animal between 
them. In the periwinkle the mantle is equally visible, 
but this time it is all in one piece, and forms a com- 
plete transparent tube, out of which the animal pokes 
its head and its crumpled foot bearing the horny lid, 
or opercuhun, which closes the shell. 

When the periwinkle was very young he was not 
larger than the head of a small pin, and his shell was 
like a minute transparent bead. But as his body 
grew larger it was necessary for his home to be both 
larger and stronger. Then he stretched out his 
mantle till it reached over the edge of the tiny shell, 
and gave out from it a thin film, in which were grains 
of lime which had been passed through his body into 
the mantle. This film, clinging to the inside of the 
shell and stretching over its edge, formed a fresh 
internal layer, and a new rim to the mouth. The 
rim, however, was not white, but coloured by little 
cells of dark paint or pigment, secreted in the border 
of the mantle. The shell was now a little larger and 
a little thicker, and the mantle was drawn in till a 
still more roomy house was needed, and then the 
same thing took place again ; and so the building 
went on till the shell was completed, the lines round 
and round it marking the rims which had each in 
their turn formed its mouth. 

In this way the mantle, not only of the periwinkle 
but of all the mollusca builds up the shell for the 
animal to live in. In the oyster each half of the 


mantle lays down its own separate valve, and this is 
the case with all those mollusca which have no 
heads ; they all grow bivalve, or two-valved, shells, 
while those which have heads, such as periwinkles, 
snails, and whelks, have their mantle all in one piece, 
and consequently grow single or univalve shells. 

Nor is this all, for the shape, colour, and pecu- 
liarities of all the different shells come from pecu- 
liarities of the mantle. If this is crumpled at the 
edge or drawn out in horn-like folds, then the shell 
will have a crumpled form like the scallop, or horns 
like the murex, while the sunlight falling upon the 
mantle seems to help it in forming the bright pig- 
ment with which it paints its home, so that shallow- 
water shells and those of the tropics are more brightly 
coloured than those from the deep sea or from dull 
climates. Again in the inside of the shell, if the 
mantle leaves a smooth layer this will be white, but 
when the film is crumpled in very fine folds, these 
reflect the light in such a way as to give the beautiful 
colours known as mother-of-pearl ; while, if the mantle 
be irritated at any point, it will form in the oyster 
or the mussel a little bead of lime afterwards to be 
increased into a pearl. 

And now with this picture in your mind of the 
mantle at work, visit any good collection of shells, 
such as that at the British Museum, and look at the 
giant Strombs and Volutes of the Indian Ocean ; the 
Pinnas from the Mediterranean, half a yard long, 
with their erect curled scales ; the prickly Murex 
with its delicate pink-tinted lining ; and the gorgeous 
purple Mussels. Notice the rainbow-coloured cham- 
bers of the Nautilus, the pearly lining of the Haliotis, 


and the lustrous transparent shell of the floating 
Carinaria, and then say whether the work done by 
the mantle of the soft-bodied animals does not surpass 
that of any sculptor or artist in the world ! 

Yet this is not the chief object of the shell, which 
is meant to shield the delicate creature within, and 
does it so successfully that though the soft bodies 
of the mollusca offer the most tempting morsels to 
birds and insects on the land, and to almost all the 
inhabitants of the sea, yet, protected by their shelly 
covering they spread into every nook and corner of 
the globe, giving birth to such multitudes of young, 
that, in spite of all the havoc which thins their ranks, 
they flourish in abundance. Even the 

" Poor patient oyster where it sleeps 
Within its pearly house," 

although it is the most helpless of all the headless 
mollusca, would overspread all the deep-sea banks 
round our coast if we would let it alone. The oyster 
fishers have only to visit their well-known haunts 
about half-a-mile or a mile from the shore, in Essex, 
Kent, Wales, and elsewhere, to rake them up by 
hundreds. If you could dive down there to the bottom 
of the sea you would find the oysters cemented firmly 
to the rocks and to each other by the under part of 
the largest valve, which is cup -like in the centre 
where the body lies, while the flatter valve is gaping 
open and a stream of water is gently flowing over 
the oyster within. 

The shells stand naturally open because they have 
an elastic cushion (c) something like a thick piece of 
gutta-percha fixed within the hinge, which acts like 



Fig. 41. 


a spring of a jack-in-the-box, and drives the covering 
valve up unless it is forcibly pulled down. This, 
however, can be done by 
a strong muscle (ms) 
which lies within the 
valves, and has one end 
fastened to the upper and 
the other to the lower 
valve, so that by con- 
tracting this muscle the 
oyster can pull its shell 
together with a snap 
when danger is near. 
Close round this muscle 
lies the body of the ani- 
mal between the two 
flaps of the mantle (m m'). 

An Oyster * lying in the shell. 

s, Shell ; m, lower half of mantle 

m, a piece of the upper half; g 

breathing gills ; h, heart ; Iv, liver 

lp, lips ; o, opening of mouth ; a 

anus where refuse is thrown out ; ms 
muscle holding shells together ; c 

Lifting up the upper flap 
you will find, edging the 

elastic cushion forcing them apart. b O( J y anc j growing to the 

mantle, a delicate transparent frill (g) of four striped 
bands, these are his gills or breathing apparatus. 

" The fringes that circle its body, 

Which epicures think should be cleared, 
Are the animal's lungs for 'tis odd, he 
Like a foreigner breathes through his beard. " 

The stripes are tubes which run up and down 
each fold, and through them flows the sluggish 
colourless blood of the oyster, so that as the gills lie 
bathed in water, the blood takes in oxygen through 
the delicate membrane, and flows back to the body 
purified and refreshed. The remainder of the oyster 
* Oslrea edulis. 


consists of its stomach, digestive tube, and dark 
coloured liver (Iv), an ovary where the oyster eggs are 
formed, and a heart (/i), with two chambers, which 
pumps the blood through the channels of the body, 
while fine nerves spread in all directions, not yet 
arranged in pairs along a cord as we shall find them 
afterwards in insects, but straggling to the various 
parts from two chief centres. 

But where is the mouth ? Placing the oyster with 
its deep shell downwards, and the rounded part to- 
wards you, you will find an opening (o) in the right 
hand corner near the hinge, and over it four thin lips 
(lp}. % If you could watch the oyster alive, you would 
see that all the water passing over the gills flows 
towards this mouth, and the reason is made clear if 
you put a small piece of a gill in water under the 
microscope ; for then you will see a whole forest of 
lashes waving over the surface of the gills like reeds 
in a stream, and striking strongly in one direction, 
namely, towards where the mouth would be. By 
means of the action of these lashes, or cilia, the oyster, 
as he lies gaping in the water, has a constant current 
flowing over him, which not only provides him with 
breath, but drives the helpless microscopic plants 
and animals past his thin lips, to be drawn in and 

But though the oyster has little trouble in obtain- 
ing his food, he has much in preserving himself from 
danger. When he first comes out of the egg, he re- 
mains for some time lying safely between the gills of 

* In opening oysters at the shops, they turn them on the flat valve, 
and remove the round one, so that the mouth will then be seen on the 
left side. 


his parent, but by and by he is cast out, to make 
room for others (for one oyster may lay as many as 
two million eggs in a year), and swims away by means 
of a number of lashes, which extend beyond his thin 
transparent shell. Woe betide him then if he comes 
near to a hungry fish, or crab, or sea-anemone, for 
millions of young oysters are swallowed by these 
animals ; yet he is not quite without help, for at this 
time he has two little red eye-spots, and can see his 
danger, whereas he loses these after he is fixed to 
the rock. Still even then his nerves seem sensitive 
to light, for his valves are said to close at once when 
a boat passes over him in clear water, and his sense 
of touch is very acute all round his mantle ; ' and as 
he builds his shell firm and strong, he can show fight 
against many intruders, and live sometimes for ten, 
twelve, or fifteen years. 

But it is amid many perils, for the star-fish can 
apply his greedy mouth to the valves, and stifle him 
in his grasp, and annelids or sea-worms can work 
their way into his shell, while the whelk with his 
rasping tongue bores right through it, and feeds on 
his tender flesh ; and, if he escapes all these, the 
boring sponges destroy hundreds of his race by 
riddling the shells with holes, and growing upon the 
graves of their victims. Even his own children often 
cause his death, by settling down upon his upper 
valve, so that when a bank becomes densely popu- 
lated those underneath are stifled in a living grave. 

From the oyster which lives on banks at many 
fathoms depth, we will pass on to the mussel anchored 
nearer to the shore on the mud-banks and groynes 
which are uncovered at low water. Here the waves 



beat roughly, and to be safe it is necessary to with- 
stand them. But the mussels (M, Fig. 42) do not, 
like oysters, cement themselves down for life. They 
have a different stratagem which enables them to get 
free if they wish. They have below their body a 
muscular flap, which goes by the name of a "foot," 
and is made up of layers of muscle crossing and 

Fig. 42. 

Group of headless Mollusca. 

C, Cockle * springing. M, Mussel. t S, Scallop.J R, Razor-fish. 
/, Foot ; t, anchoring threads ; si, breathing siphons ; e, eyes of scallop. 

recrossing each other. In this foot there is a deep 
groove, out of which they force a milky fluid which 
hardens into threads (f) and anchors them to the 
rock. Any one who has tried to wrench mussels 
from their bed, knows how strongly these threads 
hold ; and if you remove the mussels carefully and 
put them in an aquarium, you may see them anchor 

* Cardium. t Mytilus. Pecten. Solen. 


themselves. As soon as they grow a little accus- 
tomed to the place they will begin feeling about with 
their foot to find a spot, and then pressing the tip 
firmly against it, will draw it back after a time, 
leaving a thread behind. The huge fan-mussel or 
Pinna, common off Plymouth, forms threads so silky 
that they have actually been woven into gloves. 
The mussel then has the power of spinning new 
threads and settling in new spots, but he is prac- 
tically a stationary animal, providing himself with 
plenty of food by the rapid motion of his fringed 
gills, so that even young shrimps in spite of all their 
efforts are carried into the whirlpool. Then when 
the tide goes down, he closes his shell, shutting in 
enough water to last till the sea returns, and it is 
while he is left high and dry that the sea-birds often 
wrench him from the rocks and devour him. 

In the scallop (S, Fig. 42) we get a step farther ; 
for though he too forms a slight cable and anchors 
himself to the rock, yet he can in most cases with- 
draw it at will and dart through the water in long 
rapid leaps, so that a group of young scallops look 
as if they were performing a dance. Mr. Gosse, who 
watched this in an aquarium, saw the scallop draw as 
much water as it could hold within its mantle, and 
then, closing the edge, squirt it out at one corner so 
as to drive itself along in the opposite direction. The 
lima, which is nearly related to the scallop, and has a 
lovely orange fringe to its mantle, often builds a nest 
with its threads, working in pieces of coral, gravel, 
and shells, and fastens it to the seaweed, lining it 
with a smooth layer of slime, and taking refuge in it 
out of the way of crabs and fishes. But the scallop 


goes boldly out into the sea, and you will not wonder 
at its activity when you see its beautiful jewelled eyes 
(e] set all round the rim of its mantle like precious 
stones set in a ring. You may easily see these eyes 
peeping out at you through the half-opened shell in 
any fishmonger's shop, and a pretty sight it is. 

The life of the cockle (C, Fig. 42) is very different 
True he can leap to a great distance by bending his 
long foot (/) and straightening it with a jerk ; but 
he uses it chiefly to burrow in the soft sand, and then 
he draws his body down till only the tip of his shell is 
uncovered, and there he takes in water and food. 
Some cockles have the two flaps of their mantles 
joined together and drawn out on the side opposite 
the foot into two short tubes (si, Fig. 42), down one 
of which the water enters, while it is thrown out at 
the other. 

Lastly, the razor -fish, whose shells we find so 
often, but whose bodies we rarely see, scarcely ever 
come above ground at all, but burrow with their thick 
foot till only the two siphons (si) are uncovered, and 
throw up jets of water, by which the fishermen find 
them when they dig them up for bait. 

We have bivalves then lying fixed in the deep 
water, anchored on the stormy shore, and buried in 
the sand, nay more, if we search at low tide we may 
often find the rocks riddled with holes, and, on break- 
ing them open, see within a Pholas, an animal like the 
razor-fish, but much shorter and with a beautiful deli- 
cate shell. The Pholas has learnt to find a home in the 
solid rock, while the groynes of our shores and the 
bottoms of our ships are destroyed by another true 
bivalve, the Teredo, which is miscalled a " shipworm." 


Then we can trace these headless mollusca from 
their ocean-home gradually up into the fresh water, 
some forms living in the brackish water at the river's 
mouth, others like the fresh-water mussel buried in 
the mud of rivers ; and these do not spin threads, 
since they have no rude waves to meet, but put out 
two short siphons to the pure water above. All 
kinds of different forms with their habits we may 
study on the coasts and in the ponds and rivers ; 
but we never find a bivalve either on the land, or 
sailing in the open ocean. 

Fig. 4 

Molluscs with heads. Vegetable-feeders. 

L, Limpet* walking, and attached. P, Periwinkle t walking, and 
closed. /, Foot ; o, operculum ; s, snout ; g, place where gills lie 
under the shell. 

These regions they are obliged to leave to the 
more highly-gifted mollusca with heads ; and when 
we have examined the little periwinkle grazing on 
the seaweed among the rocks, we shall, I think, be 
able to imagine how it was possible for some of his 

* Patella vulgaris. t Liltorina littorea. 


distant relations to venture into new hunting grounds 
and become land animals. 

Watch a periwinkle some day in his home among 
the rocks, and see him gently lift his shell, open his 
horny door (p, Fig. 43), and put out his head. He has 
two delicate tentacles to 
feel with, and just behind 
these on very short stalks 
are set two tiny but keen 
eyes, the nerves of which 
join the great nervous 
mass now for the first time 
chiefly centred in a head. 
The under part of his 
body is a flat crumpled 
disk or foot, as it is called, 
composed of muscles; and 
this when lengthened out 
first on one side and then 
on the other, draws him 
gently along, the under 
side being moistened from 
time to time by slime 
from a gland within. On Th e ins ; d eofaPeriwinkle.-^. 

account of this foot ^ Foot . OT> musc le for drawing 
being under the body, back into the shell ;g, spittle glands; 

the periwinkle and his ^SfjKV^SS 

companions are called ing to s, stomach ; r, rasp of teeth 

Stomach-footed (Gastero- foiled up; Jr branchiae or breath- 

ing gills, which, when the mantle 

Poda). So he moves On, j s folded back in its place, lie over 
but at the slightest alarm the throat ; a, anus ; o, ovary carry- 
he disappears as if by 
magic into his shell, drawing his horny door close be- 


hind him, for the powerful muscles of his mantle 
(m, Fig. 44) enable him to shorten or lengthen his 
body at will. If undisturbed, however, he finds his 
way to a mass of seaweed, pushes out his snout 
(s, Fig. 43), and moves very slowly along, scraping 
fine shavings off the weed as he goes, so as to leave 
minute dents behind him. 

This he does by means of a very curious instru- 
ment. If you could look into his mouth, which 
opens on the under side of his head, you would find 
it paved with sharp teeth, just as if a number of 
nails had been driven into it point upwards, and it is 
with these that he rasps the seaweed as he rubs his 
jaw along it. 

But this rough file wears away rapidly with con- 
stant use, and to meet this difficulty he has a com- 
plete provision hidden within. The rasp within his 
mouth is only the end of 600 rows of teeth, three in 
a row, growing on a long gristly strap like pins stuck 
in a pincushion, and this strap, often two and a half 
inches long, closes its edges together at the back of 
the mouth so as to wrap over the rough points, 
and is then rolled, up into a coil, and stowed away 
in a fold of the neck (r, Fig. 44). As the front 
teeth wear away this strap comes gradually for- 
wards on the floor of the mouth, the new teeth 
grow up and are sharpened, ready for use. This 
curious strap is generally called the " tongue," 
though a " rasp " (radula) is a much more appro- 
priate name. 

And now as our periwinkle walks and feeds he 
must also breathe, and, strange as it may seem to 
us, no creature below the back-boned animals ever 


breathes through its mouth.* Look back to the 
earlier groups and you will see that the sponges, 
jelly-fish, and corals breathe through the skin, while 
the star-fish takes in water, not through his mouth, 
but through the perforated plate in his back ; the 
oyster breathes by means of gills fringing his body, 
and we shall find by and by that insects breathe 
through holes in their sides. We must look then 
for the gills of the periwinkle, and we find them 
safely lodged in a fold of his mantle over his neck, 
just within the broad part of his shell (br, Fig. 44). 
There they are bathed in water drawn in by their 
waving lashes, and when the periwinkle is left high 
and dry by the tide he pulls-to his lid, shutting in a 
supply of water. 

The same is true of the limpet, not that he has 
any door to close, but he clings so closely to the rock 
that water is shut in all round his gills, which fringe 
his body just above the foot. You would hardly 
imagine at first that a limpet has a head like a 
periwinkle, but when he is covered by the water and 
not afraid that the birds will peck at his tender foot 
and carry him off for food, you may see him lift his 
shell and put out his head with its horns, and make 
a track off to the nearest seaweed, where he grazes 
steadily. But when the tide goes down you will 
find him back again in exactly the old spot, where 
he has worn a little basin for himself to lie in, to 
which he fits so closely that sometimes his shell will 

* Exception may be taken to this generalisation as regards the 
ascidians, but it must be remembered that, so far as the true nature 
of these has been determined, they appear to be degraded members of 
the vertebrate type. 



have even grown a little deeper on one side than on 
the other to fit some dent in his nook. 

These are the peaceful vegetable-feeders, and the 
margins of their shells (when unbroken) have always 
unnotched rims, but if you pick up a shell which 
has a notch (n, Fig. 45) in the margin as in a cowry 

Fig- 45- 

Flesh-feeding Molluscs. 

W, Whelk. E, Whelk-eggs. C, Cowry. 

o, Operculum ; n, notch in shell ; si, siphon ; /, foot ; j, snout. 

or whelk shell, you may be almost certain that its 
owner fed on other animals, for flesh-feeders have 
their mantle folded right round their gills, and drawn 
out into a tube or siphon (.') through which the water 
is taken in, and the notch in the shell marks the place 
where the siphon protrudes. 

Now these flesh -feeders have to work much 
harder for their living than the grazing limpet or 
periwinkle. Though they sometimes devour fish 


and other soft animals, yet their chief food is shell- 
fish, and they have to reach them through their 
closed houses. The hungry whelk therefore has to 
bore a hole through a solid shell before he can take 
his meal, and for this he is provided with a boring 
instrument such as any engineer might envy. His 
snout, which can be stretched out like the trunk of 
an elephant, contains a toothed rasp like the peri- 
winkle's but much more formidable ; and this rasp is 
moved up and down by powerful muscles so as to 
act like a fine saw drilling a neat round hole even in 
the hardest shell, through which he can suck out the 
soft body it contains. It is curious that he does not 
always know when he will find food within, for he 
will sometimes drill a hole not only in an empty 
shell, but even in a shell-like stone. 

While the periwinkle and his relations then are 
grazing on the seaweed, the whelks and cowries, 
and their tribe, are finding means to attack the 
oysters and cockles, limpets and periwinkles, and so 
to establish a successful hunting-ground where there 
would be no room for more vegetable-feeders ; and 
you can scarcely pick up a handful of shells without 
finding some pierced with the holes made by these 
marauders. They people the shores of the ocean all 
over the world, some carrying their eggs till they are 
hatched, some glueing them down in safe nooks, others, 
such as the whelk, laying them in a bunch of horny 
bags (E, Fig. 45), in each of which the young whelk 
may be seen moving, if you can pick them up fresh 
from the sea. And when the little ones are born, 
they are able to swim about, as the young oyster 
was, and while myriads are borne away on the sea 


and devoured by other animals, the remainder settle 
down and feed on the sea-bottom. 

This is the history of the sea-forms, and we have 
now to glance at those on the land. First, we must 
notice, in passing, the water-snails in the ponds and 
rivers, feeding on decayed leaves and travelling often 
from place to place, floating shell downwards on the 
surface of the water, or hanging from the water-plants 
by slimy threads. Some of these have and some have 
not the horny door, while some breathe by gills, and 
others are air-breathers. Then we have not much 
difficulty in recognising the land-snails as being very 
like the periwinkle, only breathing by air instead of 
by water. The way this is done is very simple. If 
you watch a snail when its head is out of its shell, 
you will see a little slit opening and shutting steadily 
in the top of the neck, and through this hole air is 
passing into a closed chamber made by a fold of 
the mantle. The walls of this chamber are covered 
with a network of blood-vessels, through which the 
blood flows, taking oxygen this time from the air 
instead of from water. By this simple arrangement 
the snail, no longer confined to the sea and rivers, is 
able to spread over the fields, and woods, and gar- 
dens, feeding on the delicate juicy leaves of plants, 
on mosses, and fungi, and all the rich vegetation of 
the country. But it has many dangers, for birds and 
hedgehogs, and even insects, prey upon it greedily. 
Therefore it feeds chiefly in the dusk of the evening ; 
while it has sharp eyes (e, Fig. 46) set upon long stalks, 
which can see on all sides when it is out of its shell. 

Now in order to retire safely into its shell, it must 
be able to draw in these eyes, and also the two ten- 


tacles or feelers below, and here we find a beautiful 
machinery. If you watch a snail drawing in its 
horns you will see that the eye disappears down the 
tube, just as the tip of a glove-finger does, when you 
draw it down from inside the glove. These horns 
are in fact hollow tubes, and a special muscle pulls 
them in from the top downwards, and when the eye 
is wanted again, it is only necessary for the muscles 
round the tube to contract, and so to squeeze the tip 
gradually out. 

Most of the land-snails have lost the horny door, 
not having any need for it ; but in winter, when they 
sleep without food in the cracks of old walls, under 
the bark of trees, and in other sheltered spots, they 
pour out a layer of slime, which hardens and shuts 
them into their shell till spring returns. 

Slugs (C, Fig. 46), on the other hand, bury them- 
selves in the ground for winter safety. At first sight 
you might imagine that a slug had no shell at all, 
but if you examine carefully you will find a small 
shell (s) under its black skin, just behind the neck, 
and the small breathing hole (b} at the side will show 
you that this shell covers the breathing organs. This 
is in fact the only part of a slug's body which is 
covered by the mantle, and if you alarm him you 
will see him draw his head in under it, as though he 
expected it to shield him from danger. No doubt 
the absence of a large shell enables the slug to creep 
into many places where a snail cannot go, and the 
havoc worked by these creatures in our gardens 
shows how rapidly and successfully they feed. The 
great gray slug * has a supply of 2 8,000 teeth, so 

* Limax maxitnus. 


that he can use them without scruple ; and if it 
were not for the birds which devour both slugs and 
snails at their work, and some insects which destroy 
their eggs, the whole land would be eaten up by 
them ; for they hide their eggs so cunningly in 
the roots of plants, in crevices, and well - sheltered 
nooks, that they multiply by millions. 
Fig. 46. 

Snails and Slugs. 

A, Garden snail.* B B, Testacella;t one disappearing into the 
ground, and only the tail showing. C, The Great Gray Slug.J 
s, Shell ; *, tentacles ; t, eyes ; b, breathing-hole. 

Yet, even kept down as they are, there is not vege- 
table food enough for all kinds, and many feed on 
* Helix. f Testacella. J Limax. 


other animals, as for example the little testacella (B, 
Fig. 46), a queer little fellow which follows the worms 
down into their holes, and drags them down his 
throat by his rasp of barbed teeth, so that often 
several worms may be found torn and mangled 
within his body. His breathing chamber has found 
its way nearly to the end of his tail, so that he can 
breathe when the front of his body is buried, while 
the little shell (s) which covers it looks very comi- 
cal, but is useful, nevertheless, in protecting it from 
attack behind. 

All these many forms of water-snails, and land- 
snails, and slugs, have taken possession of the land 
and its waters, and now if we go back to the sea we 
find that the world has still room for other kinds, 
only they must fit into gaps that are not occupied. 
For wonderfully beautiful mantle-covered creatures 
may be found there lurking under stones and in dark 
corners, if a careful search is made at low tide. These 
are commonly called " sea-slugs," and by scientific 
men the " naked-gilled " mollusca, because they have 
no shell or covering over their feather -like gills 
("> Fig. 47), but carry them erect on their backs 
like tufts of moss or delicate seaweed. Yet in their 
babyhood these naked animals lived in a tiny curled 
shell, and swam about by lashes like the young of all 
the stomach-footed animals, and we can still recognise 
their nationality, by their feathery gills and their 
coiled rasping tongue. Like the land-slugs they can 
creep through many a narrow opening not possible 
for shelled animals, and though their eyes are not 
powerful they have very sharp ears, a quick sense of 



touch, and sensitive nerves. Especially their smell 
is very acute, probably in order to prevent them from 
venturing into bad water where their delicate and 
unprotected gills would be unable to work well. 
Though they are so fragile -looking, yet they eat 
ravenously, feeding on young corals, sertularias, and 
sponges, and often digging a good piece of flesh out 
of a sea-anemone with their scoop-like rasp. Some 

^ Cx ^ _ Fi e- 47- 

Naked-gilled Mollusca, commonly called sea-slugs. Alder and Hancock. 

D, Dsris pilosa. E, Eolis coronata. f, Foot ; g , breathing-gills ; 

t, tentacles. 

of them are protected by spicules set in their flesh, 
but most of them are very tender, and escape obser- 
vation by the wonderful resemblance of their colours 
to those of the seaweed over which they wander ; and 
whether floating, or hanging by slimy threads, or 
crawling with their beautiful plumes outspread, they 
select chiefly the dark sheltered spots neglected by 
the hardier children of Life. 



And now that the sea-shore, the ponds, and the 
rivers are overrun with stomach-footed animals, there 
remains but the wide ocean. And even there they 
have made their way, for sailors in the Atlantic Ocean 
meet with the ocean-snail (lanthina), with its float 
of air-cells, floating in myriads over the sea and 
feeding on the small jelly-fish, and with the lovely 

Fig. 48. 

Oceanic Mollusca. 

I, lanthina, the ocean-snail, f, Foot ; r, raft of air-bubbles, with 
egg-bags hanging down. C, Carinaria.*^ Foot ; s, shell covering the 
breathing-gills, g , both these forms float upside down. P, Pteropod 
or wing-footed snail. 

Carinaria, whose foot has been moulded into fins 
(/, C, Fig. 48) with which it swims upside down in the 
water, its delicate shell serving to protect its breath- 

* Carinaria atlantica. 


ing-gills (g). And as the Carinaria swims along 
he feeds on other and minute univalve animals, 
such as the sea-nymphs and wing-footed snails 
(Pteropods), which discolour the water for miles 
with their swarms, as they graze on the floating 

Life then has spread her mantle-covered children 
far and wide over sea and land, where each by 
different devices finds food and shelter. But it is not 
with such tiny beings as these that we are to end 
the history of the mantle-covered animals ; for lurking 
in the holes and tide-pools of the sea, there are 
much larger creatures with sac -like bodies, green 
staring eyes, horny beaks, and waving arms, which, 
unlike as they are to the ordinary shell -animals, are 
nevertheless true mantle-bearers. 

Who would imagine, on seeing a cuttle-fish with 
its large pathetic eyes, thrown up on the sea-shore, or 
an octopus shooting across its tank, that these intelli- 
gent, active creatures had any connection with the 
helpless oyster or timid periwinkle ? Yet so it is ; 
only while the oyster is one of the lower and feebler 
forms, the cuttle-fish, the octopus, the argonaut, and 
the nautilus, are the monarchs of the mollusca, pro- 
vided with as powerful weapons for their work as 
the dragon-fly is among insects or the tiger among 

Go some day and look at an octopus in one of the 
aquariums. Its bag-like body appears to be a mere 
mass of flesh ; yet it has really a most complicated 
internal structure, and a gristly framework more like 
a true skeleton than any other animal without a back- 



bone. Its mantle covers the body and forms a ring 
round the neck, often fitting so closely that its edge 
can only be seen where there is a hole for taking in 
water. In a fold of this mantle are hidden the gills, 
and a short funnel (si, Fig. 49) sticking out of its neck 
is a tube for shooting out the refuse water which has 
been taken in at the mantle-rim. Here we have the 
secret of the rapid movements of the octopus, for, by 
taking in a supply of water at the rim of his mantle 
and sending it out in jets through the funnel, he shoots 

Octopus shooting backwards through the water. 
si, Siphon ; a, arms ; s, suckers on the arms ; e, a bunch of eggs 
of the octopus. 

himself backwards just as a boat is sent through the 
water by a stroke of the oar. Nay, more, if he is 
flying away from an enemy he has an additional 
mode of defence, for within his body is a gland which 
secretes an inky fluid, and this he squirts out through 
the funnel, making a thick dark cloud behind him 
which baffles his pursuer at the same time that it 
helps himself to dart away. 


" Th' endangered mollusk thus evades his fears, 
And native hoards of fluid safety wears. 
A pitchy ink peculiar glands supply, 
Whose shades the sharpest beam of light defy. 
Pursued he bids the sable fountain flow, 
And wrapt in clouds eludes the impending foe." 

Fishermen assert, and Mr. Darwin and others confirm 
their opinion, that the octopus and cuttle-fish often 
take deliberate aim at an enemy when they squirt out 
this unpleasant fountain. 

But the chief and most powerful weapons of the 
octopus are his so-called arms and his horny beak. 
Just below his large penetrating eyes is spread out a 
crown of eight long tapering ribands (a, Fig. 49), and 
these are, in fact, his foot, answering to that crumpled 
muscular disk upon which the snail walks. In the 
octopus this foot has grown round the neck and then 
divided up into segments, and for this reason he and 
the cuttle-fish and nautilus are called head-footed ani- 
mals (Cephalopoda}. The foot of the cuttles has ten 
segments instead of eight, and two are nearly three 
times as long as the others. 

Now watch the octopus lurking in the rockwork of 
the tank, his round body squeezed into some nook, 
and his arms,"* some grasping the rock, others flapping 
idly in the water. If a large fish or crab pass by 
instantly he is on the alert ; the arms in the water, no 
longer listless, dart out and fasten on the luckless 
animal, which is dragged in to the strong beak stand- 
ing out in the centre of the arms and crunched in a 
moment, even the crab's shell cracking like a nut, 
while his flesh is devoured and carried down into the 

* For so we must call them, although they are really strips of his 


stomach of the octopus by his fleshy tongue armed 
with horny hooks. But what gives the arms of the 
octopus such power ? If you look at the under 
surface of them you will find, arranged in pairs along 
each arm, suckers (s, Fig. 49), large near the mouth 
and growing small as the strips taper to a point, and 
crowded so thickly that an ordinary-sized octopus 
with arms about a foot and a half long will have 
nearly 2000 of them. Each of these suckers is a 
perfect little air-pump with a piston in the middle, 
and the moment the octopus lays an arm upon any 
creature, a muscle draws the piston in each sucker 
back. This causes it to cling like a cupping-glass, 
and the more the victim struggles the tighter is the 
grasp ; wnile the octopus holding by the suckers of 
his other arms to the rock has a firmer and firmer 
hold the stronger the resistance. 

One would almost imagine at first sight that long 
experience would have taught the fishes and crabs to 
keep out of the way of such a monster ; but the 
octopus has another, and almost unfair, advantage. 
He carries in his transparent skin cells of colour, 
yellow, blue, red, and brown, and has the power, like 
the chameleon, of changing colour and assuming the 
tint of the rock under which he hides. 

"New forms they take, and wear a borrowed dress, 
Mock the true stone, and colours well express. 
As the rock looks they take a different stain 
Dappled with gray, or blanch the livid vein." 

By this means he not only lies safely in wait to 
pounce upon his prey, but may himself escape the 
notice of the dolphins or the conger eels, which are 


too strong for him to conquer, and who in their turn 
feed on his fleshy arms. 

With such advantages and weapons of attack, can 
we wonder that not only the octopus but also his 
ten-armed relations, the cuttles and the squids, are 
to be found of different sizes and kinds all over the 
sea ? There is the little Sepiola, often caught off our 
coasts in the nets of the shrimpers, whose body is 
only about half an inch long, with small flaps or fins 
on the sides. He, like the cuttle-fish, so far clings to 
the old habits of the mollusca as to form a long thin 
shell on his back under his mantle ; and this shell we 
call a " pen " when we find it on the shore because it 
is shaped like one. He makes himself a shelter by 
blowing a hole in the sand with jets of water from 
his funnel, and uses the suckers of his arms to 
remove and arrange the small stones. Then he sits 
in his hole, with his large goggle eyes peering out, - 
and catches the shrimps and smaller crabs as they 
pass by. There is the common cuttle-fish which 
forms in its mantle the white chalky shell known 
as the " cuttle -bone." It generally floats about or 
creeps over the bottom of rocky pools ; till fright- 
ened, or, wishing to attack some animal, it shoots 
out suddenly a jet from its funnel and flies back- 
wards through the water, clutching its prey on the 
road. The dark horny grape -like bunches which 
we find on the shore are the eggs of the cuttle- 
fish. There are the Calamaries, whose shell is a 
horjiy " pen," and some of which living in the open 
ocean have sharp hooks in the centre of their 
suckers, making cruel weapons of attack against 
the unfortunate fish, who have the sharp hooks 


planted in their flesh and held fast by the cups 
around them. 

Then there is our friend the Octopus with his body 
squeezed between the rocks and nothing but his bright, 
gleaming eyes to betray him, while his wife in another 
sheltered nook is watching over her eggs (e, Fig. 49) 
arranged in clusters on a stalk like a huge catkin 
of a nut-tree. A loving mother she is, sometimes 
dandling the eggs in the hollow web of her arms or 
cleaning them by spouting water from her funnel 
over them, as a gardener washes his plants with a 
hose. Week after week she will watch them, for 
though they do not need hatching, yet if she did 
not keep them clean they would be addled by living 
things growing over them ; then as each little bag 
bursts a tiny perfect octopus about the size of a flea 
darts out, uses his funnel at once, and frolics to and 
fro in the water, his body blushing now with one 
colour and now with another. 

In our seas an octopus scarcely ever has arms 
more than two feet long, and a body about the size 
of an ordinary lemon ; but in the Mediterranean they 
have been caught with arms four feet long and are 
Yiuch dreaded by the bathers, and in the British 
Tuseum there is an arm of a Calamary nine feet 
.n length, so that the creature which carried it and 
which probably lived on the coasts of South America, 
must have been formidable indeed. 

But if there are ugly and dangerous "head-footed" 
inimals, there are among them two lovely forms. 
The Argonaut, though she does not really sail on the 
water with her two arms raised as sails, as the poets 
imagined, yet forms such a lovely cradle for her eggs, 


which she carries with her, that it makes her a "thing 
of beauty " as she drives herself backwards through 
the water. The shell-bearing Argonaut is the mother, 
for the father is like an ordinary octopus and has no 
covering ; and indeed that which the mother carries 

Fig. 50 

The Mother Argonaut floating in the water.* Verany. e, Eggs. 

is not a true shell, but a chalky nest built up by the 
ends of two of her arms, which are spread out into 
broad webs and folded back over her body where 
they lay down that beautiful delicate film of lime, 
the "Argonaut shell." Under this shell, still keep- 
ing it covered with her arms, she places her bunches 
of eggs, and stretching out the other six arms, can fly 
backwards through the water carrying her brood with 
her, or can, like the cuttle-fish, float quietly or creep 
along the bottom. 

But perhaps the most beautiful shell of all is that 

* When in rapid movement the arms are in a straight line, as in the 
Octopus (Fig 49). 


of the Nautilus, which, it must be remembered, is 
totally different from the Argonaut shell, being the 
animal's real home and not a mere nest. The 
Nautilus is different in many ways from the octopus 
and the cuttle. He has four breathing gills instead 
of two ; his eyes are much less perfect than those of 
the other head-footed animals ; he has no ink-bag, for 
having a strong protecting shell he has less need for 
it; and he has no suckers on his feet. He is the last 
remnant of a once great family, that of the huge 
Ammonites and Nautiluses, which we find buried in 
the rocks of ages past ; and, like many a remnant 
of a once noble race, living retired in their own 
domain while younger and less sensitive branches 
are fighting their way to eminence in the world, the 
nautilus creeps in the shallow waters of the Indian 
Ocean, or floats about when all is still, but hides 
himself persistently from view, and has very rarely 
been seen alive. He builds his beautiful and refined 
house chamber by chamber, deserting one after 
another as he grows too large for them, and leaving 
only a thin tube through the middle, by which he is 
supposed to fill the shell with air when he wishes 
to float. 

"Year after year beheld the silent toil 
That spread his lustrous coil ; 
Still, as the spiral grew 
He left the past year's dwelling for the new, 
Stole with soft step its shining archway through, 
Built up its idle door, 
Stretched in his last-found home, and knew the old no more. " 

He allows very few, however, to investigate his 
habits : wrapped in his proud reserve he lives his 
solitary life, and it is only after his death that his 


beautiful shell with its pearly chambers is found and 
brought to decorate our homes. 

And here we must take leave of the mantle- 
covered animals. We have followed them, though 
very imperfectly, from the "poor patient oyster," 
through their gradual rise in power ; till we leave 
them as dreaded conquerors, in the sharp -beaked 
octopus and the terribly armed calamary. We might, 
if we had ventured on the dangerous sea of conjecture, 
have started still earlier, and linked their simpler forms 
to those of the lower worms. But till more is known, 
this course might have led us astray, and it is safer 
to content ourselves with marking how life has 
gradually filled the ocean and the land with specially 
fitted forms of mollusca, having all a distinctive 
nationality which separates them from the other 
divisions of Life's children ; so that the octopus, the 
cuttle-fish, and the nautilus, stand as undoubtedly at 
the head of one great plan of animal life, as the ants 
do at the head of the insects, or man at the head of 
the vertebrates. We shall now have to hark back 
again, and in inquiring of the worm whence he 
comes, and how he lives, start on a totally different 
track, which will lead both by land and water, 
through the forms of the shrimp, and crab, and 
lobster, to the aerial and fairy -like insects which 
form so large a portion of the life upon our globe. 


(for description see list of" illustrations.) 




" And ever at the loom of Birth 

The Mighty Mother weaves and sings ; 
She weaves fresh robes for mangled earth ; 
She sings fresh hopes for desperate things." 


E have now traced the history of 
four out of the seven divisions 
of animal life, and have seen how 
each, by taking a different road, 
has managed to get a footing for its 
members in various nooks and spaces 
in the world. We must next try to 
gain some idea of that small fifth 
division containing the Worms ; in 
which is shadowed forth, as it were, 
that ringed structure which we shall 
find so remarkable in the sixth and 
largest division which follows. But, 
before arriving at the true ringed 
worms, we must pause for a moment 
to glance at that curious, wandering, and outcast 
population of our globe, which, finding no shelter in 
the earth, or sea, or air, have taken up their abode 
within their fellow-creatures and live upon them. 


Although we have as yet studied only the lowest, 
and by no means the most numerous of Life's 
children, yet we begin to see that our earth is full, 
very full, of life, and that the creatures in it are 
jostling each other, and driving into dark and 
dismal corners those which cannot get a living in 
the open sunshine. Millions serve as food for 
others, and millions die a speedy death from want 
of space and food ; but we cannot expect that any 
will give up their lives while they can find a means 
of struggling on. What way is there, beyond those 
which we have found already ? 

There is still the novel device of a creature find- 
ing shelter by making another living being carry it, 
and of obtaining food by making another living 
being nourish it. And so we find that among the 
low forms of many classes of animals there are 
always some which prey upon their neighbours, just 
as in our great cities there are always some of the 
most degraded and miserable our street Arabs and 
our thieves who live on refuse and plunder. 

And this is true to such a large extent in the 
animal world, that there is probably scarcely a single 
creature that does not carry many other creatures 
upon or within its body. 

Some of these merely come to it for shelter, as, 
for example, the tiny pea-crab, which is constantly 
found living in the shell of the horse-mussel, catching 
its own food, and being probably rather helpful than 
otherwise to the mussel, by leaving him the scraps 
of his meal. Others, such as ticks and water-mites, 
fix themselves on the bodies, the one of sheep and 
dogs, the other of water-beetles, and sucking the 


blood of their hosts, find both food and shelter. 
And others, finding no place for them at all in the 
outer world, burrow into the very body of their 
victim, and feed upon the soft parts within. 

Among these last, the greater number are a low 
race of soft-bodied worms, whose ancestors, when the 
other forms of life the star- fish, mollusca, ringed 
animals, and insects found new ways of gaining 
their livelihood, remained behind, groping in the 
mud and sand of rivers and seas, and flapping about 
by the broad margins of their flat bodies. Some of 
the descendants of these soft-bodied worms still 
manage to live a free and independent life. One 
set called the wheel-worms,* because of the curious 
whirling appearance of their lashes as they swim 
about, may be seen under the microscope in almost 
any stagnant water. Another group, with tiny red 
eye -specks, and a trumpet -shaped mouth in the 
middle of their bodies,! live on the sea-shore or in 
ditches, and may be found as little jelly-lumps upon 
water-cresses before they have been washed. An- 
other set,! known as the " ribbon-worms," with elastic 
bodies which stretch sometimes to an enormous 
length, are armed with a tiny dagger in the head, 
with which they pierce the soft bodies of animals 
and suck out their juices. One of these called the 
long-worm^ which looks like a dark strip of india- 
rubber as it lies coiled up under stones on the shore, 
has been known to be as much as twenty feet long, 
though only as broad as the blade of a pen-knife. 

These are the more fortunate of the soft-worms 
which have found a place in the outside world ; but 

* Rotifera. t Planaria. J Nemerteans. Nemertes borlasia. 


there are others which, unable to get a living in 
the mud and sand, were forced to work their way 
into the bodies of snails, caterpillars, or grubs, and 
now make them their natural home. Unpleasant 
as it may be to think of these parasites, yet when 
we look at the question from their point of view, 
they are after all only doing their best to get 
a living, and they have many curious weapons to 
help them in doing it, nor do they always injure the 
animal upon which they live, unless they are in great 

Thus, for example, one of the flukes,* a minute 
flat -worm shaped like a tiny flounder, has a most 
strange succession of changes in its life. Firstly, 
The mother lives within the intestines of some 
water-bird, holding on firmly to her host by two 
rows of tiny hooks round her head, while her mouth 
is firmly applied like a sucker ; secondly, the eggs 
are thrown out and fall into the water or moist mud, 
and out of them comes, thirdly, the embryo or 
imperfect animal, surrounded with lashes ; but it 
does not long remain free, for out of it again comes 
a fourth form, a small bag-like animal, which at once 
seeks out a water-snail (Paludind) and clings to it. 
Nor are the transformations yet ended. Within this 
hanging sac, which is called the " nurse " of the fluke, 
there appear, fifthly, a number of little tailed ani- 
mals like tadpoles, and by and by the nurse bursts, 
and all these little creatures come swimming out 
once more free in the water. But the snail is not 
rid of them ; either upon her or upon some other 
snail like her> a number of these little creatures fix 

* Distoma militare. 


themselves, and each one boring into her foot, drops 
off its tail, and forming a transparent bag round its 
body, begins to grow a crown of hooklets. In this 
state it remains till the snail, gobbled up by some 
water-bird, passes into its stomach, and there the 
gastric juice, digesting the snail, dissolves the bag, 
and at last the fluke becomes a perfect animal again, 
fixing itself by hooks and suckers in the same kind 
of home from which its mother came. 

And now consider what a number of chances 
occur to this animal during its short life, any of which 
may destroy it. Their eggs are not placed in a fit 
spot by a careful mother, but fall wherever the bird 
may chance to drop them, and twice in their lives 
they have to find a snail in which alone they can live 
and grow. Many fail, and clinging to stones or 
weeds, die for want of their home. And even if they 
succeed in these first attempts, the last step of all is 
entirely out of their control, for unless they are car- 
ried down the throat of the water-bird, they can 
never grow and lay eggs. But they exist in such 
myriads that this is of no consequence to the race. 
You can scarcely cut open any snail without finding 
some of these curious creatures within it, different 
species living in different snails ; and in most cases 
the worm must pass into another animal to become 
complete. The liver-fluke of the sheep for example, 
which causes the "rot" when too abundant, lives its 
early life in a snail, which is licked up by the sheep 
as they eat the damp grass. 

The bladder-worm, however, which gets into the 
brain of the sheep, and causes it to hang its head, 
belongs to another and perhaps more dangerous 


tribe. These are the so-called " tape-worms " which 
can only grow to their full strength in warm-blooded 
animals, and are armed with both hooks and suckers 
on the head. Now, while the front part of this head 
is firmly fixed, buds are given off continually from 
the other end, making a long tail with many joints, 
each of which carries eggs, and often has its own 
separate suckers and hooks to hold firmly to its host. 
These creatures have no mouths or stomachs, but 
take in the fluid food all over their body as it passes 
by them on its way through the animal they inhabit. 
Tape-worms wander just as flukes do, thus the tape- 
worm of the dog begins its life in the sheep, that of 
the cat lives first in the mouse, that of the fox in the 
hare or rabbit, that of the water-bird in the fish. 

Nor is it only flat -worms which have become 
parasites ; the little wriggling round worms live, many 
of them, in the grubs of beetles and insects, and from 
these pass on into the bodies of rats and mice, 
squirrels and birds, or fishes. The little thread-worm 
MermiSy for example, as soon as it is hatched in the 
moist earth in spring time, uses a sharp dagger 
hidden in its head to pierce a road for itself into the 
body of a grub, and lives upon its juices till either 
the caterpillar becomes a butterfly, or is eaten, or 
the mermis is ready to lay her eggs, and then she 
pierces her way out again to lay her young in the 
soft earth. 

Another little round worm hangs on by its suckers 
inside the throat of the chicken, givingit the " gapes," 
which can be cured if the worm is brushed out with 
a feather ; while the Trichina so dangerous in half- 
raw pork or ham, is another round worm, living in 


the muscles of the pig. All these, and hundreds 
of forms like them, belong to that wandering band 
of outcasts, which have been driven from the face of 
the earth to feed upon the strength of others. They 
are not a pleasant band, but they teach us most 
surely the truth that the children of Life are sown 
broadcast over the earth, to make the utmost use of 
it that can be made. We have even examples where 
a parasite upon some animal has another parasite 
within it ; as when by cutting open a snail, worms 
are found within, and these worms when cut open 
are found to be the home of some tiny infusorian or 
slime animal, so that even within the body of one 
animal we have a little world of life. 

Another truth it teaches us which we have noticed 
before ; namely, that where a creature has little use for 
its powers, these diminish and it becomes degraded 
and feeble ; for the parasitic worms, with their low 
structure, their want of eyes and ears, and often of 
mouths and stomachs, are most of them poor miser- 
able creatures at best. Yet still we find even here 
that each must do some work. The most shiftless 
of worms passed on passively from one animal to 
another, must find its way to the liver, or the muscle, 
or the intestine which is its natural home ; and in 
the hooks and suckers, and daggers so admirably 
fitted for opening a path, and clinging firmly when 
the right spot is found, we see a proof that even 
these poor debased- parasites have acquired some 
weapons in the struggle for life. 

But we must not stop here in our history of the 
worm tribe, for these parasites have distant relations 


of a far higher structure, who have managed to gain 
a much better position in the world. In each of our 
groups of animal life we have found some special 
advantage which has enabled them to spread their 
children over the world ; the sponges had their 
co-operative life and their protecting skeletons, the 
lasso-throwers their poisonous weapons, the prickly- 
skinned animals their tube feet and stony casing, the 
mollusca their wonder-working mantle, but among 
them all we have not yet met with that power of 
moving quickly, without which no creature is ever 
very intelligent. It is true that the octopus can 
shoot rapidly through the water, and is at the same 
time the most intelligent animal we have yet learned 
to know ; but its quick movements are all in the 
water ; when it scrambles along the shore it is slow 
and awkward, while the other crawlers, the sluggish 
snail or the creeping star-fish, are not any more rapid. 
And yet it is clear that the power of getting quickly 
over the ground must be an advantage in the struggle 
for life, and we shall see that it is this power and 
the intelligence accompanying it which has raised 
the most advanced animals in the sixth division to 
such a high position as that of the bee and the ant. 

Nothing, however, is learnt in a moment, and 
therefore you must not be surprised that the worm 
and the leech, which you would probably consider 
rather slow animals, are the first 'examples of the 
more active creatures. Nevertheless, if you could 
start either of these animals on a fair race with a 
snail, though they might not appear to hurry yet 
you would find they would beat him hollow. The 
accompanying picture is one given by Sir Emerson 



Tennent of the land-leeches as he saw them in the 
low ranges of the hill country of Ceylon. He tells us 
that these little leeches, about an inch long, fixing 
themselves by their tail suckers, raise their heads in 
the grass to watch for passers by, and as soon as 
they see man or beast they start off. Now stretched 
out at full length, now drawing up the hind sucker 
so as to form a loop, then forward again, they ad- 
vance at an astonishing pace till they reach their 

Land-Leeches of Ceylon * racing to attack some creature. 

victim, when they cling to ankle or leg, or even if 
these are protected are soon up at the neck, where 
they hang in groups like bunches of grapes, as their 
skins swell out with their meal. 

Now, if we wish to learn the secret of the leech 
and how he can move so fast, we must look for it in two 
things. I st, in the muscles by means of which he moves 
his ringed body ; and 2dly, in the chain of nerves 
which give the order for the muscles to move. He 
has three layers of muscle in his skin in the first, 
nearest the outside, the fibres run round and round 
the body in rings, in the second they cross each 

* Hamadipsa Ceylonica, Sir E. Tennent, Ceylon, vol. ii. 



Fig- 52; 

other making a diamond -shaped lattice -work like a 
netted purse, in the third they run along the body 
from head to foot. When the 
leech wishes to lengthen his body 
he contracts the round rings and 
so forces the long cords to stretch, 
making himself long and thin ; 
when he wishes to shorten his 
body he contracts the long cords 
and forces out the rings, making 
himself short and stout, while the 
criss-cross muscles help to modify 
these movements. 

So much for the muscles, and 
now for the telegraph which go- 
verns them. If you were to lay a 
dead leech on its back and open it, 
you would see running from end 
to end of its body a white cord (c) 
with little swellings of white mat- 
ter (g) at intervals upon it, and 
from these swellings very fine 
white threads (n) are seen branch- 

After Moqvin-Tandon. ing out into the body. The Cord 
Section of a Leech * to . j r ^i j v 

show the nerve-cord c, ls made of nerve-threads clinging 
with the ganglia or knots closely together, and is so to 

*T?L s P eak the line of tekg-aph; ** 

off from them ; j, walls swellings are masses of nervous 
of segments of the body ; matte r called ganglia, and are the 

A pockets of slime. , 

telegraphic stations ; the white 
threads are simple nerves carrying messages to the 
muscles ; while round the neck of the leech is a collar 

* Hirudo medicinalis. 


of nerves with two large ganglia^ the head telegraph 
offices. Now, it is this system of nerves which enables 
the leech to give orders to its muscles so rapidly, 
and throughout all the ringed animals this same 
system is found growing more and more perfect up 
to the ants. 

When the leech is alive and uninjured, all the 
telegraphic stations work together, and you will notice 
that in the middle of the body, which is divided into 
segments (s), each has its own station or ganglion, 
and though all these usually work together, yet each 
segment is so active that if the cord is cut in half in 
the middle, the stations in the tail end of the leech 
will work on their own account and the two halves 
will often try to pull different ways. We see then 
that we have here a very powerful machine, and when 
we remember that the leech has eight or ten simple 
eyes set in its back near the head, and two strong 
suckers to cling with, within one of which is a mouth 
armed with three saw-like jaws which can easily pierce 
the skin of its victim, already made tight by the 
sucker, we can understand that he is well fitted for the 
battle of life. He is essentially an aquatic-breathing 
animal ; and though he can live for some time out 
of the water, he can only do so in very damp air, 
and his body is always covered with slime which 
oozes out from some little round pockets (/) in the 
sides of his body. 

So the leeches live in ponds, and ditches, and 
marshes, and some even on damp land ; and the eggs 
out of which the young leeches come, are laid in co- 
coons of gummy slime placed in the holes and clay of 
the banks. Fish, snails, limpets, and grubs are their 


usual food, though they by no means despise warm- 
blooded animals when they get a chance to fasten 
upon them. 

The elastic-ringed animals are not, however, con- 
fined to fresh water ; on the contrary, though they 
cannot breathe in perfectly dry air, yet they have 
found their way underground in the common earth- 
worm, and there are many of them in the sea, from 
which probably they first came, and where they are 
protected and armed in many very curious ways. 

The common earthworm, which we all know so 
well, is a curious example of a water-animal adapted 
to live under the earth. He breathes as the leech 
does, and he must have moisture, for perfectly dry air 
is useless to him, and he dies quickly in very dry 
places where he cannot keep his body moistened 
with slime. Eyes would be of no use in his under- 
ground journeys, and he only comes above ground 
at night, so we find that these organs are wanting ; 
suckers too would be a hindrance to him, and his 
body ends in a fine tapering point which he can push 
into the earth like a shoemaker's awl. 

But how is he to force his way through the earth ? 
If you pass your hand along his body from the tail 
to the head you will feel a gentle resistance, for 
every ring bears four pair of hooked bristles pointing 
backwards, so fine as not to be easily seen, but strong 
enough for his work. When he has pushed the front 
part of his body a little way into the earth he then 
draws it up by shortening the long muscles, and the 
bristles make no resistance because they point towards 
the tail ; then he contracts his ring muscles and so 
forces his body to lengthen again, but this time it 


cannot lengthen backwards, because the bristles being 
rubbed the wrong way will not yield, but stick into 
the earth, so that the whole movement is forwards, 
and he makes his way. 

He often assists himself too in another way by 
eating the earth through which he passes ; he has 
no hard jaws like the leech, but a long upper lip with 
which he shovels the earth into himself, sending it 
out afterwards at his tail, and making those curious 
coils of earth which we find on lawns and garden 
paths. His usual food is the animal and vegetable 
matter in the earth, which he absorbs out of it as it 
passes through his body, though it is possible he may 
also sometimes eat the leaves which he is so fond of 
dragging with him underground, leaving the stalks 
sticking out above. The young earthworms are 
hatched underground in cocoons made of earthy mat- 
ter and slime, and as they have no eyes or tentacles 
or other tender organs, they become at once fearless 
miners. Yet they often fall victims at all ages to 
the hedgehog and the mole, and even to their rela- 
tions the leeches if they venture near the water; while 
birds are their mortal enemies. Even if a bird can- 
not succeed in catching a whole worm, yet he will 
often nip off his tail as he is disappearing into the 
earth in the early morning after his nightly rambles. 
As, however, the worm can grow the tail again with- 
out any difficulty, the loss is perhaps not of much 
consequence ; and from his living underground he 
is certainly exposed to fewer dangers than our next 
examples, the seaworms, which are obliged to protect 
themselves in many ingenious ways. 



Very few people, as a rule, are acquainted with 
the seaworms in their homes, but every one who has 
handled oysters or scallops must have noticed the 
curious round tubes often firmly clinging to their 
shells. These tubes were once the home of a sea- 
worm which has built them of chalk and slime. The 
worm itself is quite loose within the tube and stretches 

Fig. 53- 

A Group of fixed Sea- Worms. 

S, Serpula. t, Tentacle ; /, breathing-plume. 
Sp, Spirorbis. 

T, Terelella. 

its body out, scrambling up the sides by the help of 
its bristles and of a number of little comb-like plates 
which grow upon its rings. If you can get a shell 
covered with these tubes from the sea at low tide and 
put it in salt water, you will see a beautiful sight. 
After a time a small scarlet stopper (/, Fig. 53) will 
creep up and out of the tube, and as it rises on a 


long stem there will follow it a splendid scarlet plume 
(/) arranged like a double fan, and waving in the 
water. The stopper with its stem is one of the 
tentacles of the worm enlarged at its end so as to 
shut the animal safely within the tube, while the 
other tentacles have become the beautiful plume 
which is the breathing apparatus of the animal. It is 
easy to understand that being in a tube, the Serpula, 
as this worm is called, cannot breathe through its 
skin like the leech or worm, and it needs these deli- 
cate gills to provide air for its body, while at the 
same time its sensitive nerves and apparatus of 
muscles enable it to draw them in like lightning when 
danger is near. 

There is an almost endless variety of these tube- 
building worms. You can scarcely pick up a piece 
of dark seaweed without finding upon it what look 
like very tiny shells (Sp, Fig. 5 3), but which are really 
coiled worm-tubes. Again you cannot search long 
among the sandy pools at low tide without finding 
some long tubes made of sand and broken pieces 
of shell wedged between the stones and rocks, and 
having forked sandy threads at their end. These 
tubes are the house of the Terebella or shell-binding 
worm, which selects particles of shell and sand with 
its tentacles and places them round its soft body, 
cementing them together as a mason cements the 
stones of a wall, till it forms a tube often a foot long, 
so firmly wedged into the beach that it is almost 
impossible to get one out perfect ; while you will 
rarely find the worm itself, as it draws back to the 
farthest end of the tube directly it is alarmed. 

These are the fixed scaworms, but there are 


others as active as any animal in the sea, and the 
first step towards these is the common higworm which 
fishermen use for bait This worm, which makes the 
round coils of sand we meet with on the coast, moves 
freely about but is not very active, for it has no eyes 
and lives much underground, glueing together the sand 
as it passes along, and forming a tunnel for itself 
through which it can pass. Its gills are no longer round 
its head, as among the fixed worms, but it carries them 
on its back as thirteen pairs of lovely scarlet tufts. 

And now we come to the wonderful defensive 
weapons which life has bestowed upon these wander- 
ing worms. The lugworm safely hidden in its tunnel 
does not need any, but the lovely Nereis (N, Fig. 
54), which has a well -developed head, with eyes, 
tentacles, and sharp jaws, leads a much more active 
and precarious life. It hides under stones and shells, 
or moves about rapidly in the water, and can use 
its bristles not only as oars to swim with but also as 
swords, sabres, and hooks. For these fine bristles 
are not simple hairs as they appear, but have saw-like 
edges and hooked tips, and are really formidable 
weapons, both of attack and defence, although the 
smaller specimens of the creature which you find on 
the shore often look like mere threads, unless seen 
under a magnifying glass. 

But if the Nereis is beautiful and terrible, how 
much more so is the marvellous sea-mouse (A, Fig. 
54), which we sometimes see thrown up on the shore, 
while small ones may be found by turning up stones 
on the sand. No one would believe at first sight 
that this creature is a worm, covered as it is with 
broad scales and bristling with tufts of hair. Yet if 


you lift the scales and brush aside a thick coating of 
felt which covers the body, or if you look underneath 
the creature as it crawls along, you will be able to dis- 
tinguish the rings, and also to see that the tufts of hair 
spring each from a separate ring like the hairs of the 
earthworm. The broad scales are a curious breathing 
arrangement peculiar to the sea-mouse, for when they 

Fig. 54- 


A, Aphrodite aculeata, commonly called a sea-mouse, b, Bristles ; 
/, lances. N, Nereis pelagica. 

are lifted the thick coating of felt is filled with water, 
which in this way flows all over the outside of the 
body ; and when they are shut they force it out again, 
making room for a fresh supply of water to pour in 
when they rise. In this way the whole body of the 
animal is bathed in water, out of which the oxygen 
can be taken through the delicate skin. 

But it is above all the tufts of hair which are so 


beautiful and wonderful beautiful because each 
bristle, being marked with the finest possible 
scratches, reflects light of all the colours of the rain- 
bow crimson, scarlet, orange, yellow, green, blue, 
and lilac according to the angle at which the light 
falls upon it, so that the creature looks as if it carried 
a forest of prisms upon its back. Wonderful, because 
each of these hairs is a sharp lance, by which the 
worm can protect itself from attack. In one of the 
sea-mice, the Aphrodite hispida, these bristles are per- 
fect harpoons, with barbed points at their tip and 
delicate teeth all along the edges, and they can be 
thrust out when the animal wishes to defend itself. 
But how, then, can the worm avoid cutting itself 
with these sharp instruments ? To prevent this each 
barbed spine has a smooth horny sheath, which closes 
upon it as it is drawn in and prevents it from tearing 
the tender flesh ! Such a creature as this deserves 
indeed to be called the king of worms, being at the 
same time so beautiful and so formidably armed. 
He lives in deep water, and is only to be found 
when thrown on shore, where he is very helpless, 
though in his own element he is a dangerous neigh- 
bour, as he feeds greedily upon all living animals, 
not sparing even his own brothers when they are 
weaker than himself. He is a timid creature, hiding 
under stones and in dark corners and shunning the 
light of day which gives him all his beauty, yet, in 
bidding adieu to the worm-tribe, we must acknow- 
ledge that none of them can compare, either in deli- 
cacy of structure or in their weapons of attack and 
defence, with the little sea-mouse, or, as he is often 
called, the " porcupine of the ocean." 




" Strong suits of armour round their bodies close, 
Which, like thick anvils, blunt the force of blows ; 
In wheeling marches form'd, oblique they go 
With harpy claws their limbs are armed below ; 
Fell shears the passage to their mouth command, 
From out their flesh their bones by nature stand, 
Broad spread their backs, their shining shoulders rise ; 
Unnumber'd joints distort their lengthened thighs ; 
With stony gloves their hands are firmly cased ; 
Their round black eyeballs in their bosom placed ; 
On eight long feet the wondrous warriors tread, 
And either end alike appears a head ; 
These, mortal wits to name as ' Crabs ' agree 
The gods have other names for things than we." 



AVING now arrived at the sixth 
and largest division of the whole 
animal kingdom, we are going to 
leave behind us those low and 
scattered tribes, which live as it 
were in a dreamy unconscious 
way, tossed hither and hither by 
outward circumstances, and having 
but feeble nerves to guide them ; 
and for the future shall have to do 
with beings gradually struggling 
into active intelligent life. 

No one can watch the beautiful 
transparent prawn, with his bright 
eyes gleaming, and his antennae 
trembling in the water, without feeling that we have 


here a creature much more alive to everything around 
him than the groping star-fish or the creeping worm, 
while the active little crab as he peers out from the 
seaweed, and scrambles across the shallow pools, or 
buries himself in an instant in the wet sand, shows 
a lightness and agility which we look for in vain in 
the sluggish snail or the slowly -grazing limpet 
And when we learn that the prawn and the crab in 
the sea are formed on the same plan as the centipedes, 
spiders, and insects of the land, we see that we are 
on the road to even more intelligent and more active 
creatures, such as the busy bee and the thrifty ant. 

But how can this be, that the heavy armour-covered 
crab and lobster, which are called Crustacea from their 
hard crust-like shells, should belong to the same type 
as the delicate hovering butterfly, and the buzzing 
gnat ? Let us pause and master this, for till we 
have done so, we cannot understand the wonderful 
way in which the creatures of each group in this divi- 
sion have been adapted to the life they have to lead. 

In Fig. 55 we have four animals a prawn, a 
centipede, a spider, and a caterpillar together with 
the butterfly into which it turns. Now all these 
animals wear their skeleton, or the hard part of their 
bodies, not inside as we do with soft flesh growing 
over it, but outside ; so that if you grasp any of them 
when dead, the skin (as we should call it) will bend 
or crack like a piece of thin horn. Moreover, this 
hard outside skeleton is arranged more or less in 
rings with softer skin between them, as you may see 
in the centipede and caterpillar, and in the hind part 
of the prawn and butterfly ; and they are to be traced 
in many spiders, though as a rule they have disap- 


peared. These rings remind us of the worm, only 
that in the animals of which we are now speaking 
they are more marked, and whereas the worm has 
only hairs for legs, these animals have many-jointed 
limbs which are of great use in running, leaping, 

Fig- 55- 

A group of Jointed-footed animals (Arthropoda), showing their 
ringed bodies. 

and seizing prey. It is because of these jointed 
limbs that the Crustacea, centipedes, spiders, and 
insects are all called Arthropoda, or jointed -footed 
animals.* Linnaeus called them all Insects, because 
their bodies are cut into divisions (in into, secta cut), 
and although naturalists now generally confine the 


* Arthron, a joint ; pous, a foot. 


word " insect " to those which have wings and six 
legs, yet a good English name is so much wanted 
which will take in centipedes and spiders as well as 
beetles and butterflies, that I shall follow Mr. Ray 
Lankester's suggestion * and call all the ringed and 
jointed-footed animals " Insects." 

In this sense the prawns and their relations which 
are both jointed-footed and cut into parts have been 
called the " Insects of the Sea," and this name helps 
to remind us how much they are like the great body 
of insects on the land. 

This likeness is very evident when we compare 
the four types in Fig. 5 5 . Thus we have first the 
butterfly, whose body you will notice is cut into three 
distinct parts the head with one pair of feelers or 
antenna on its forehead, a pair of eyes on the side of 
the head, and mouth-jaws below ; the thorax, or chest, 
on which grow the six legs and two pair of wings ; 
and the abdomen, or hinder part of the body, which 
never possesses any limbs. The butterfly thus is a 
six-legged winged insect. Then we have the centi- 
pede, whose ringed body reminds us of the caterpillar 
from which the butterfly springs, but which has 
jointed feet on every ring. Next we come to the 
spider, and here we find the head and shoulders 
joined into one strong piece, and bearing four pair of 
legs, while the abdomen has nearly lost the traces 
of rings. The antennae are bent down over the 
forehead, and have been turned, as we shall presently 
see, into pincers, hooks, and poison fangs ; while the 
short feelers in front of the head, which look like 

* Haeckel, History of Creation, English translation, vol. ii. p. 178, 


antennae, are really a part of the mouth. Lastly we 
have the prawn with his head and shoulders joined 
into one like the spider (in the lobster you may see 
a curved line marking the spot where these are 
joined), with five pair of legs, while some of its rela- 
tions have many more ; and the usual ringed abdo- 
men which in this case has little paddles under it 
for swimming. 

Now just as when we feed, part of our food goes 
to make phosphates, which form and strengthen our 
bones or internal skeleton, so do all these animals 
make out of the food in their bodies a substance 
called cJdtine something like horn, and this is 
deposited in the outer layer of their skin, and 
makes a firm skeleton all over the body, and eyes, 
and antennae, and legs ; and within this firm skele- 
ton the soft animal lives, much as a soldier in olden 
times was enclosed in his jointed armour. But if a 
soldier had been placed in armour as a baby, he 
would have had to change his suit many times before 
he became a man, and this is also the case with 
insects. Their covering is not like that of the sea- 
urchin, which we saw could be added to at every 
point ; it is made once for all, like the soldier's 
armour, and the creature must throw it off when it 
becomes too small for its body. Thus the prawn, the 
centipede, the spider, and the caterpillar alike creep 
out of their armour many times in their lives, leaving 
it often standing so perfect that it looks like the 
creature itself. 

We see then that the prawn and his relations, 
although they live in the sea, belong to the ringed 
and jointed-footed division, and are formed on the 


same plan as the land-insects, which have spread so 
far and wide over the globe. These are an active busy 
multitude, which, if they could think and speak, would 
have far more right to call this earth their world than 
we have to call it ours ; for whether in the sea, or in 
the rivers and ponds ; in the fields, forests, or marshes ; 
at the tops of mountains, or in underground caves 
and passages ; in our gardens, our cellars, our houses, 
or about our persons ; anywhere, everywhere, all over 
the world their hosts are to be found. 

We are accustomed to attach great importance to 
the back-boned animals, the fishes, reptiles, birds, lions, 
elephants, and monkeys, because they are compara- 
tively large and conspicuous, but in truth, if we ex- 
cept the human race, they are as nothing, either in 
number or in activity and ingenuity, as compared with 
the insects and their allies. 

If we could take one of each species of all the 
back-boned animals, and add to them all the species 
of worms, mollusca, prickly-skinned animals, lasso- 
throwers, sponges, and lime and flint builders, 'all 
these together would only make up 50,000 species, 
or one-fifth of the animals on the globe ; the other 
four-fifths, or 200,000 species, belong to the ringed and 
jointed-footed animals, and of these I 5 0,000 are the 
six-legged insects. Now we have learnt that if crea- 
tures succeed in the battle of life, it is because they 
can hold their own and fight bravely, and therefore 
we are prepared to find that life has taught these, her 
active children, many new lessons and armed them 
with many useful tools and weapons, differing greatly 
according to the lives they have to lead. 

And first of all we must turn our attention to the 


great group of " Crustacea," the " insects of the sea." 
For though some of this group, as the water-flea and 
cray-fish, live in rivers and ponds, while a few, such 
as the wood-louse and even some kinds of crabs, 
crawl upon the land, yet the chief home of the crus- 
tacea is the ocean, where, having scarcely any enemies 
so powerful as themselves except their own relations, 
they run riot both as to numbers and size. Think 
for a moment of the multitudes of sandhoppers to be 
seen leaping on a dry sandy shore in the evening, 
or which rise like a cloud of dust out of the half- 
rotten seaweed if you stir it with your hand. Try 
to reckon up the myriads of shrimps and prawns 
which must be caught daily to supply all England, 
and which are nothing to those that remain behind. 
Look at the large crabs and lobsters in the fish- 
mongers' shops, and think that in London alone 
25,000 lobsters are often sold in the season in one 
single day ! Then call to mind how you cannot 
walk a step on the shore at low tide, without seeing 
some tiny crab scuttling along in a hurry to catch 
something, or to escape being caught himself; or 
how constantly you come across a hermit crab with 
a periwinkle or whelk shell on his back, making 
tracks in the sand as he wanders along. Try and 
count some day the number of acorn shells (Fig. 61, 
p. 174) which grow on one single piece of rock or 
the groyne of a pier. For these too are crustaceans, 
as are also the barnacles (Fig. 61) which hang from 
floating timber or gather on the bottom of ships. 
When you have gained some idea of the multitudes 
of these creatures on our own shores, you will not 
have reckoned one millionth part of the crustaceans 


which live in the sea, for not only are there strange 
forms of all kinds on distant shores, but there are 
oceanic crabs which swim in the open sea for days 
without resting, just as the albatross flies over it, 
while smaller crustaceans swarm under the ice in 
the Arctic regions, and there is scarcely a fish which 
has not an animal of this class living on some part 
of its body. 

Of all the many forms, however, there is probably 
not one more beautiful than the delicate transparent 
prawn as he paddles along lazily in sea pools, or 
through the still water of an aquarium. His horny 
Fig s6> skeleton is so clear 

and glass-like, that it 
looks like crystal, while 
the formidable toothed 
saw protectinghis head, 
is scarcely visible in 
the water, and his 
delicate antennae and 
tapering limbs look as 

Common Prawn. . r , , , 

if they would snap at 

a, Large antennae ; a 2 , antennules or , . , 

small antenna; b, front leg, with small a touch. AS he SWims 
claw bearing a brush; t, carapace you will notice that it 

j i u u u' 2. ' i '* is not his ten. true lesrs 

ringed abdomen ; S, swimmerets ; t, in the front part of his 

body which row him 

along, but the little hairy swimmerets, S, which lie under 
the hinder part or abdomen, while if anything alarms 
him, he darts rapidly backwards by a smart stroke 
of his fan-like tail, t. His long antennae or feelers, a, 
are streaming over his back, while a pair of shorter 
antennae or antennules (a 2 } as these are called, each 


bearing three branches, move gently to and fro in 
the water. Why do they do this ? Because in their 
last joint where they touch the head, is a little bag 
beset with hair, and having in it a thick fluid and 
some tiny particles of sand, and this is the ear of the 
prawn from which a nerve passes to the main nerve- 
mass in his head ; so that as he moves the antennules 
in the water, he is, as it were, listening without ceasing 
to all sounds that may pass through it. Just above 
these hearing organs a pair of gleaming eyes stand 
out upon short stalks, and if you examine these 
under the microscope, you will see that they are 
composed of a number of six-sided facets arranged 
in a hemisphere, so that the prawn can keep a sharp 
look-out on all sides. Here, then, we have an animal 
with a keen power of sight, of hearing, and of feel- 
ing ; and if you have ever watched a prawn hunting 
over the scent of a piece of meat which has been 
dropped into an aquarium, you will not doubt that 
he has also the sense of smell, though it is difficult 
to point out exactly where the smelling organ is.* 

And now suppose that he has scented or caught 
sight of his prey, whether it be a piece of dead 
flesh or a soft tender living shrimp, he darts down 
upon it, and seizing it with his second pair of feet 
(cl, Fig. 56), which have large pincers, picks it to 
pieces with his mouth and claws, and eats it, much 
as a child eats a biscuit held in its hand, but not 
with the same kind of mouth. If you will get hold 
of a prawn and try to make out its jaws, you will 

* There has been much discussion as to the position both of the smell- 
ing and hearing organs. It seems, however, from Mr. Spence Bate's 
experiments, that the ear must be at the base of the smaller antennae, 
and probably the organ of smell is at the base of the large ones. 


be terribly puzzled with the number of pieces in 
them, for you will find no less than six pairs. The 
outer pair are evidently altered feet, which are folded 
right over the others so as to cover them in safely, 
much as you might put your hands before your 
mouth ; under these lie two more pairs, with little feelers 
attached to them ; under these again are two other 
pairs, rather differently shaped ; and lastly under these 
a stout pair of jaws, with sharp edges for biting, and 
a surface for grinding the food. These jaws do not 
work up and down as ours do, but from side to side 
like the jaws of a bee or ant, and they are most use- 
ful to the prawn in tearing its food. 

But how can he have come by so many ? Let us 
look back for a minute to the worm, which you will 
remember had no true head, but only a long upper 
lip, and a line of rings on its body, each bearing its 
own pair of bristles. Now, the prawn also is a ringed 
animal, only that in his head the separation between 
the rings is lost, and in his thorax they have grown 
closely together so that we can only count them by 
the lines under his body, and by the limbs, which grow 
one pair to each ring. Thus, wherever there has been 
a ring, there a pair of jointed limbs remains, altered to 
suit the wants of the animal, and as the head is made 
up of many rings, these come close together, and 
form the eye-stalks, the antennae, antennules, and the 
mouth-pieces ; while the five rings of the thorax bear 
the five pair of jointed legs, and the swimmerets and 
tail-pieces spring from the rings of the abdomen. 

While all the Crustacea keep to this rule of a 
pair of jointed limbs to each ring, the changes are 
endless by which these rings and these limbs have 


been modified to suit their lives. Thus for example, 
while the prawn uses his second pair of feet for 
catching and holding his prey, it is the front feet of 
the crab and lobster which carry the large strong 
claws, and in the shrimp these front feet have a kind 
of broad hand at the end, with a hook attached. 
Again, the skeleton of the prawn remains clear and 
transparent, but the warlike crab and lobster secrete 
layers of lime in their skeleton, forming a stony coat. 

Fig- 57- 

T, Sandhopper.* e, Flat eye. C, Skeleton Shrimp, f g, Breathing gills. 

Then again if you look at the nimble sandhopper 
(T, Fig. 5 7), with eyes flat in its head instead of being 
raised on stalks, you will notice that all its body is 
ringed right up to its head, so that it can bend itself 
almost into a circle, and flinging back its tail with a 
jerk, spring about in the sand. 

In the skeleton shrimp (C, Fig. 57), which crawls 
about among the weeds under water, the body has 
* Talitrus. + Caprella. 

i6 4 


become so thin that it looks like a mere chain of bony 
rings with legs hanging on to them. In this curious 
shrimp I want you particularly to notice the little 
bag-like flaps, g, hanging down where the legs join 
the body. These are its breathing gills, in which the 
colourless blood of the veins takes up oxygen as they 
lie bathed in the water. Now, when you next eat a 
prawn or shrimp, lift up the shield or carapace (c, Fig. 
56) covering the thorax, and you will find a row of 
curious bodies (b, Fig. 58), looking something like 
curled feathers, lying against its sides, and fastened 

Fig. S 8. 

1, Ideal section of prawn, showing, s, stomach, below this the 
mouth ; /, liver ; /, intestine ; A, heart j g, chain of ganglia or nerve- 
masses ; hg, head ganglia. 

2, Prawn with carapace removed, showing gills or branchiae, b. 

to the legs. These are the breathing gills of the 
prawn, and they will remind you of the "ladies' 
fingers " which we clear away in a lobster before 
eating it. Though both in the lobster and prawn the 
shield has grown over and covered these gills, yet 
you will see that they are really on the outside of 
the body, at the top of the legs, as in the skeleton 
shrimp, and that water can easily get to them under 
the shield. In the oyster, you will remember that 


hairs or cilia swept the water over the gills (see p. 1 09) ; 
but here, by a most beautiful arrangement, too com- 
plicated to explain, the movement of the feet near 
the mouth empties the water out, and so draws in 
fresh constantly from the back. And here again 
notice that animals without back-bones do not breathe 
through their mouths, but through their sides. 

Meanwhile our prawn has been swimming and 
feeding, and you will scarcely wonder at his activity 
or his quick senses, when you learn that the same 
double chain of nerves which we saw in the leech 
runs also under his body (g, Fig. 58), only that 
whenever two rings are quite lost in each other, two 
nerve masses or telegraph stations are also joined 
into one, so that in the head, for example, a large 
number have come together, and make powerful 
head-stations (Jig, Fig. 58) of nervous power. His 
muscles too are firm and strong, and fill nearly the 
whole of his ringed abdomen, and of his legs and 
claws, so that though he looks so transparent and 
fairy-like, he is stronger than he appears. 

But now there comes a time when he grows 
restless and uneasy, and ceases to care for food as he 
wanders about the rocks on the tips of his toes, seem- 
ing rather to be seeking some particular spot. The 
fact is that it is nearly a fortnight since he has changed 
his armour, and as he is young and growing fast, it 
begins to be very tight for him. At last he finds 
a spot to his liking, and taking hold firmly by his 
feet, he begins to sway to and fro so as to loosen his 
body inside its covering. Then all at once a slit 
opens between his shield and the skin of his abdomen, 
and gradually his shoulders and head back out, bring- 


ing with them antennae and eye-stalks, legs and feet, 
as perfect as before, and having even their tiny spines 
and hairs upon them ; then with a sudden jerk he 
pulls out his abdomen and leaves his clear transparent 
shell so perfect with the coverings of the eyes, anten- 
nas, legs, hairs, and spines, nay, even with the lining 
of his stomach and digestive tube, that you might 
believe the real prawn still stood upon the rock. 
But no! the creature himself is rolling helplessly 
over, his soft body being scarcely able to keep itself 
in position, and if any animal were to seize him now 
his death-hour would have arrived. He knows this 
well and soon begins to strike out his abdomen and 
work his swimmerets which are gradually stiffening 
and strengthening, and so manages to swim or creep 
into some sheltered nook, where his inner coat, which 
has long been forming, hardens, and he is a valiant 
prawn again. 

He is now quite clean and bright and beautiful, 
and he loves to remain so, and is most particular 
about his toilet, in fact the prawn is one of the few 
Crustacea which has been seen to brush himself up 
with great care, though probably many others do it. 
We have noticed that his strongest claws are not 
on the front pair of feet as in the crab and lobster, 
but on the second pair. The front claws are fine 
and delicate, and carry little brushes on their tips ; 
and the prawn has been seen standing on his four 
hinder pair of legs with his tail tucked, under him, 
and using his front pair to brush his swimmerets, 
afterwards passing them through his foot-jaws to 
clear the dirt off the brushes ! "" 

* The little broad-claw crab cleans himself with the hind pair of 
feet instead of the front ones. 


Not so the large crabs, the backs of which we 
so often find covered with weed and shells and small 
tube-worms which have settled upon them, so that 
when a crab is old and does not change his shell, 
he often carries a perfect colony of life about with 
him. If the prawn is the crystal fairy of the sea, 

Early life of a Crab. 

I, A crab soon after birth ; i', natural size. 2, A crab after 
changing its skin several times ; 2', natural size. 3, The young per- 
fect crab after it has tucked its tail under the carapace. 

surely the crab, when big, is the lumbering armed 
giant, who destroys and devours without mercy, 
glaring out of his coat of mail, and not fearing any 
creature except a stronger crab than himself. He 
spares no animal, whether fish, mollusc, crustacean, 
or worm, that comes in his way as he sidles along 


on his strong muscular limbs ; but seizing them in 
his powerful claws he cracks their shells if they have 
any, and tears their flesh to pieces, tucking it greedily 
into his mouth, which looks as if it were in the 
middle of his body. He even makes no difficulty of 
breaking the shell of one of his own kind and feeding 
upon it from behind, while it in its turn is eating 
some smaller and weaker brother. 

To devour and be devoured seems to be the main 
mission of crabs, and they feed so greedily that we 
shall not be surprised to learn that besides their 
array of outer jaws, they, and many of the other 
Crustacea, have hard teeth in their stomach (j, Fig. 
58) which help to grind down the food. You may 
see these teeth well in the stomach of the lobster, 
where children often call them the " lady in her 

At first sight it is difficult to understand how a 
crab can belong to the ringed animals, but if you 
lift up the tail, which is tucked under the body, 
you will see that this is ringed like the abdomen of 
the prawn, and if you break off the legs carefully 
you will find under them the finger-like gills, showing 
that the body of the crab answers to the head and 
thorax of the prawn, only that the shield over its 
back is much broader, and is fastened down firmly 
at the sides, while the tail is tucked under instead of 
standing out. 

Moreover, if you could see the crab when he is 
first hatched from the egg (i, Fig. 59) you would see 
his tail stretched out and jointed as distinctly as that 
of the prawn, and at this time, with his flat eyes and a 
curious spine sticking out of his back, he is as unlike 


a crab as can well be. In this state he swims about 
vigorously, and in seven or eight days, having cast 
off his coat several times, he loses his spine, his back 
becomes broader, and he becomes a tailed crab (2). 
Still he goes on swimming and clinging to seaweed 
or anything he can find, till, after moulting a few 
more times, his tail is folded under and he sinks to 
the bottom a true walking crab (3). 

A change or metamorphosis of this kind takes 
place in nearly all the Crustacea during their growth, 
though it is different in the various forms. 

After the crab has assumed his real shape he 
lives on the bottom of the sea, generally in deep 
water, and in the holes of the rocks, and fights 
bravely for his life among his companions. Only 
about four times in the year while he is young a 
season of fear and anxiety comes upon him, for his 
shell will not allow him to grow any larger and he 
must part with his strong armour. Then he creeps 
into the darkest hole he can find, and, throwing him- 
self upon his back, swells out his body till he forces 
his covering shield to break away from the under 
part, and so he creeps out. He does this with much 
pain and difficulty, for his claws are much larger than 
the joints through which they have to be pulled, and 
they are often cut and lacerated in the process. 
He could not, in fact, get out at all if it were not 
that his flesh becomes watery before he casts his 
shell. Every housekeeper knows and avoids buying 
a watery crab, in which the flesh is poor and thin 
and the shell is half filled with fluid. When his 
shell is cast the crab waits trembling in his hole for 
a new layer of lime to form before he can venture 


boldly out again. It is said that at these times 
when a mother crab loses her shell and becomes soft, 
her mate will watch the hole where she is lying and 
keep her safe till her shell has hardened. 

But how, then, is it with the hermit-crab ? He, 
poor fellow, never loses the long tail which all young 


1, The hermit-crab in a whelk-shell walking, f, The large claw 
which closes the hole when it retreats into the shell ; f } smaller feet. 

2, The hermit-crab coming out of the shell, a, The soft abdomen ; 
h, hooks by which it takes firm hold in the shell. 

crabs have when they are born, and, moreover, the skin 
which covers his abdomen is quite soft, thus always 
offering a tempting morsel to hungry sea -animals. 
One would think that here was a disadvantage very 
unfair to the half- naked animal. But wait a mo- 

* Pagiirus Bernhardi. 


ment and consider how many thousands of hermit- 
crabs of all sizes feed on the dead fish and garbage 
of every sea-shore ; and how well they are protected 
by the strong winkle and whelk shells which they 
choose for their houses, so that they can hold their 
own, when the tiny crabs wearing only their own 
brittle coats, would soon be cracked and eaten. 
Evidently the hermit-crab has found stolen houses 
an advantage to him, and the way in which his tail 
has become adapted to his home, while keeping all 
the usual parts of a crab, is most curious. 

One of his claws (c, i) is much bigger than the 
other, and closes the opening of the shell after the 
rest of the body is drawn in, thus barring the door 
against most intruders, although the fiddler- crab 
sometimes manages to thrust in his thin pincers and 
pinch the hermit to death. His next two feet are 
strong, though pointed, and are able to take a firm 
hold on the sand as he walks and to bear the weight 
of the shell, while the two comparatively thin pairs 
which follow serve to shift his body in its house. His 
swimmerets, no longer needed, are stunted and small, 
and his soft abdomen follows the winding of the shell 
in which he lives ; while the tail fin, no longer broad 
and flat, is turned into a kind of grappling hook (/), 
which takes hold so firmly that he is scarcely ever 
dragged out alive. So there is but little danger for 
him except when he is changing his shell for a larger 
one, and this he does wonderfully quickly, never 
leaving his old house till he has found a new one. 
In fact the hermit succeeds so well in life that he is 
extremely pugnacious, and will soon make great 
havoc in an aquarium. Moreover, he often feeds two 


other animals besides himself, for a parasitic anemone 
often lives upon his shell, and a beautiful worm' 55 ' 
shelters within it and has been seen to tear the food 
out of the crab's mouth. 

So each in their several ways, the prawns, lobsters, 
and crabs, struggle for their livelihood. Brave, hardy, 
and voracious, they spare scarcely any creature of the 
sea of moderate size, whether dead or living, and 
they fight so madly, that fishermen sending lobsters 
alive to London, are obliged to run a piece of wood 
in the joints of the claws to prevent them from 
maiming each other on the road. 

They care but little for lost limbs, for these will 
grow again ; and when wounded, so that they might 
bleed to death, they throw off the shattered limb 
at the next joint, where a new skin quickly forms, 
and the danger is averted. No doubt hundreds die 
both in youth and age, yet the multitudes never 
diminish, for one lobster alone will produce 20,000 
eggs, which she will carry patiently for six months 
under her abdomen, fastened together by gluey 
threads. Even after she has broken open the eggs 
by the movement of her tail, and released the baby 
lobsters, she will still carry them till their coat is 
hard and firm, and only then leave them to wander 
alone. The crab and the prawn, on the contrary, 
turn their little ones out at once to swim as scarcely 
visible specks in the open sea, where they feed and 
grow till their strange changes of shape are worked 

The crab family, however, are not satisfied with 
one kind of life ; the velvet fiddler-crab of our shores 

* Nereis bilineata. 


has its hind feet broad and flat, and may be seen 
swimming, when the common crab can only creep ; 
while the oceanic crab has taken to the open sea, 
and can swim for days without resting, feeding the 
while. Then, on the other hand, there are crabs 
living on the land. The racing crab of Ceylon, 
which will outstrip the swiftest runner, burrows in 
the dry sand ; and though it likes to have its gills 
moist, dies if held under water. The frog-crab of 
the Indian ocean climbs on the roofs of houses ; 
the robber crab of the Mauritius lives in holes lined 
with cocoa-nut fibre at the roots of the cocoa-nut 
palm, and breaking open the nuts feeds upon the 
fruit ; while the land-crab of the West Indies burrows 
in the ground, and goes only once a year to the sea 
to lay her eggs. Still all these crabs retain enough 
of their old habits to like to have their breathing- 
gills wet, and most of them visit water daily for this 
purpose, while some of them have a curious way of 
keeping the water enclosed, and freshening it with 
air, while others use the water till it is exhausted, 
and then raise their shield or carapace and breathe 
as land animals. 

And now after hearing of these land crabs, we 
shall not find it so difficult to believe that the little 
wood-louse of our gardens, which curls itself up like 
a ball, and is the only form we have remaining like 
the huge trilobites of ages gone by, is a true crus- 
tacean, adapted for breathing air though still loving 
moist places. 

But we must return to the sea, where a most 
curious and interesting group still remains for us to 
study. We have heard of old families among men, 



who, having met with misfortune, have had the good 
sense to set to work and earn their daily bread in 
quiet obscurity ; and among the lower animals we 

have seen that 
Fig. 6 1. 
^ _. many, like the 

sponge and oy- 
ster, give up the 
free roving life of 
their childhood, 
and settle down 
upon one spot. 
But who ever be- 
fore heard of a 
creature, which, 
after swimming 
about in a ra- 
tional manner 
with an eye or 
eyes to see with, 
and antennae to 
feel with, behav- 
ing like an ordi- 
nary and respect- 
able individual, 
should put its 
forehead down to 
a rock and ce- 
ment it there by 
means of glue from its antennae, and should remain 
thus all the rest of its life with its head downwards and 
its heels in the air, kicking its food into its mouth.J 

* Lepas. t Balanus. 

J Huxley, Anatomy of Invertebrates, p. 294, 

A Group of Floating Barnacles* with a 
bank of fixed Acorn- Barnacles f in the fore- 
ground, s, Fleshy stalks growing from the 
head of the barnacle ; c, cirrhi by which the 
animals feed ; v, the inner valves of the acorn 
barnacle which open and close. 


Yet this is the true history of the barnacles and 
acorn barnacles of our coasts, and nothing can 
explain such extraordinary behaviour, except the 
overcrowding of the sea, and the struggle for life, 
which drove these curious creatures to prefer feeding 
upside down in places where others left room for 
them, to starving in an upright position. 

It is worth while to spend a short time sitting 
by a seaside pool or on the steps of a pier to watch 
the animals within the white shelly cones, called 
acorn-shells (Fig. 61, foreground), feeding in the sea- 
water. Each little cone is made of a number of 
shelly pieces, and in the middle of these you will see 
from time to time two valves (v) open, through which 
a tuft of feathery transparent fingers (c) is thrust out, 
looking like a curl of delicate hair.* Then after 
opening out in the water, the curl is drawn up again 
just as you are beginning to admire it, and the valves 
close. Not for long, however, for almost imme- 
diately they open again and the same process is re- 
peated ; so that in a group of acorn barnacles all is 
in motion as one after another sweeps the sea for 

These tufts are in fact the fringed legs of the 
balanus, as the creature is called ; and looking at 
him as he is fastened down inside the shell, you will 
see that he is something like a rough attempt at a 
shrimp, lying on its back, mouth uppermost, so as to 
be able to seize and devour the minute creatures of 
the sea drawn in by the fringes of the legs. 

In this way safely ensconced in his jointed shelly 
carapace of carbonate of lime, it is easy to see that 

* These fingers are called cirrhi, from cirrhits, a curl or lock of hair. 



the balanus lives more securely than if he had re- 
mained a freely roving creature as we see him at 

i, Fig. 62 ; and the 
success of his re- 
tirement to a fixed 
life is proved by the 
countless number of 
acorn - shells which 
are found on every 
sea-shore. The lepas 
or barnacle with 
stalks (Fig. 61), you 
will see less often, 
for they live in deeper 
water attached to 
rocks or pieces of 
floating timber. 
Their history is the 
same as that of the 

Development of an Acorn Barnacle. acom-shell,only that 

1, A young acorn barnacle before it from the cement of 
has settled down. Spence Bate. their antennae they 

2, The grown-up acorn barnacle cut in / , i__ fl^oV.,, 
halfj *, head cemented to the shell; *, form lon g ^^ 
back ; m, position of the mouth ; c, cirrhi Stalks which fasten 
fringing the legs which sweep in the food ; the head to its sup . 
v, valves of the shell. Darwin. 


And here we must take leave of the Crustacea. 
We have really only made acquaintance with three 
branches; 1st, the ten-footed and stalk-eyed crus- 
taceans, the prawns, and crabs ; 2d, those with eyes 
fixed in the shell and breathing-gills fixed to the legs, 
the sandhoppers, and skeleton shrimps ; and 3d, the 
barnacles. But these by no means represent even 


the chief forms. The King-crab"' of the Moluccas, 
with his horseshoe carapace and spiked tail, repre- 
sents a whole race which flourished long before the 
coal-forests grew. The beautiful little fairy-shrimpsf 
of our ponds are another type whose feet are used as 
breathing-gills, while the tiny water-flea J and cypris 
of our ponds are true crustaceans, though they have 
two-valved shells like a scallop. 

The histories of these little beings are as yet not 
much known, and in truth it is impossible to follow 
out all the strange vagaries of the Crustacea with- 
out making them a life study. Even when we have 
exhausted those which live independent lives, there 
remains a whole mass of parasites which fix them- 
selves on the backs and in the gills of fishes, and 
even under the tails of their distant relations the 
crabs and lobsters. 

Thus we find that these "insects of the sea" 
have spread everywhere where there is water, and 
have even found their way on to the land. Yet 
they are scarcely likely ever to make much way on 
dry ground, for we have seen that they have always 
a lingering tendency to breathe water, and therefore 
they are at a disadvantage among the myriads of 
insects fitted for the air. Meanwhile, though we 
may know more of the habits of the spider and ant, 
than of the crabs and the barnacles which hide from 
us in the ocean, yet those who love to study compli- 
cated family history will find no class in the animal 
kingdom with such an interesting and involved 
genealogy as that of the Crustacea or crust-covered 

* Limulus. t Branchipus. Daphne. 

I 7 8 




So dangles o'er the brook, depending low, 

The spider artist, till propitious breeze 

Buoy her athwart the stream. From shore to shore 

She fastens then her horizontal thread, 

Sufficient bridge, and traversing alert 

Her fine-spun radii flings from side to side, 

Shapes her concentric circles without art, 

And, all accomplished, couches in the midst, 

Herself the centre of her flimsy toils. 


T was a hot spring night on 
the coast of the Mediterranean in 
the south of France, and the hum 
of the night insects filled the air. 
The night-beetles were flying hither 
and thither, and the crickets on the 
terraces of the olive -groves were 
loudly chirping their love-songs. 
One in particular, whose dark brown 
body could scarcely be distinguished 
against the bank even by nocturnal 
enemies, was working his wing-cases 
with a will and sending out a clear 
and piercing cry. He little thought 
that he was sounding his own death-note, but so it was, 



for behind him from under a large stone in a damp 
corner in the side of the bank, an enemy was stealthily 

Any one who had been lately studying prawns and 
lobsters in the sea on this same shore, would almost 
have fancied that this enemy was a curious small lob- 
ster which had come upon the land, for two large 
claws were stretched on each side of his head, and 
with them he felt his way as he crawled along; his 

Fig- 63. 

Scorpion with a Cricket in its claws. 
s, Shield or carapace ; m c, mouth claws ; /, pincers ; d, poison dart. 

jointed feet were cased in horny armour, and so was 
his whole body, which had a shield over the head 
and shoulders as a prawn has ; while his tail, which 
dragged heavily behind him, was covered with the 
same kind of horny rings. Two large eyes, with 
some smaller ones near them, shone in the front of 
his head, and he was slowly but surely advancing 
upon the unconscious cricket. And now, he was 
close upoji him, and in a second, almost too quickly 


for the movement to be seen, the long claws were 
thrown forward, and the cricket was seized and held 
up in the air. But our friend had no intention of 
yielding so easily, he was strong, and he struggled 
violently in vain, for his captor briskly curled up 
the long tail which had till now seemed such a 
burden to him, and from the tip of it thrust a 
poisoned dart into the body of his victim. So the 
sturdy cricket died in the grasp of the Scorpion. 

Nor was his captor long in devouring his prey. 
Bringing the cricket down to his mouth he pierced 
his skin with the sharp pincers (p, Fig. 63), which 
take the place of antennae on his head, and soon 
sucked out the juices of his body ; then dropping the 
empty skin he went dragging slowly on his way, in 
search either of fresh food or to find some mate 
wandering like himself. 

Plenty of these fierce little Scorpions, which hide 
under stones by day and come out by night, may be 
found in the warm sunny south, and though they 
look so like crustaceans, they are true land animals. 
They have no means of spinning, and have a poison 
dart in the tail quite peculiar to themselves, yet they 
belong to the spider family, as may be seen by their 
eight pairs of legs, their sharp pincers which take the 
place of the antennae of insects, their claws which 
are part of their mouth-pieces and are fixed to the 
jaws, and the narrow slits under the abdomen 
through which they take in air to breathe. They 
lead but a lonely life ; for whether in the sandy 
plains of Africa, where they are often as much as a 
foot long, or in the burning heat of South America, 
or on the warm bright shores of Italy, each scorpion 


burrows under his own protecting stone, rarely having 
any other with him. Even in summer it is only 
at night that they seek companionship; while in the 
winter they burrow deep in the ground and sleep 
till the warmth comes round again. 

While the spider is the industrious and skilful 
snare-weaver of its class, the scorpion is the fierce 
bandit, knowing well the power of its sting and the 
terror it inspires ; and like the bandit it lives in a 
state of perpetual warfare, flinging its tail over its 
head and extending its claws at the least alarm, and 
either fighting till death or running rapidly back- 
wards facing its foe, till it reaches a place of safety. 
And in like manner as the robber's wife, shut out from 
the companionship of the rest of womankind, will 
love and defend her children with wild devotion, so 
the female scorpion will carry her young brood for 
many weeks after they are born, clustering all over 
her back, till they are able to fight for themselves. 

We must not, however, pause long over these 
solitary and dangerous creatures, for a far more 
interesting group of the spider class flourishes here 
in our own country, where all who wish may study 
its members. 

Instead, therefore, of lingering in the warm south, 
let us return to England, where, in the cracks of 
some old paling, or under the leaves of a shrub on a 
summer's evening after some days of thunder and 
rain, we may find a common garden spider * lying 
crumpled up as if half dead. Her web, long ago 
destroyed by the wind and the rain, has left her no 
means of getting food for many long hours, and she 

* Epeira diadem a. 


is waiting patiently till the weather will allow her to 
spin fresh snares. How mean and shrivelled and 
helpless she looks, any one will know who has ever 
found a spider in this deplorable condition ; and cer- 
tainly no one at first sight would imagine that this 
crumpled -looking object could have the ingenuity 
and skill to weave the web which a few hours later 
will be stretched across the bushes. And yet, as set 
free from your hand she hurries away, scrambling 
over the ground in the twinkling of an eye, or 
dropping nimbly by means of her almost invisible 
thread, there can be no doubt that she is both active 
and intelligent ; and a little patient examination will 
show that the poor despised spider, which for some 
unknown reason is so often disliked by mankind, is 
one of the most industrious and cleanly, skilful and 
patient of life's children ; while she carries upon her 
body some of the most curious implements ever de- 
vised, for doing her work in the world. 

Look at her limbs in their jointed casings (Fig. 64), 
and you will see that here is the same outside horny 
skeleton as in the prawn and the scorpion, with 
elastic skin between the joints ; but her abdomen (a) 
has almost entirely lost the traces of rings, and is 
often covered with fine down ; while her head and 
shoulders, welded like theirs into one piece (t), are 
sturdy and strong, giving her great advantage in 
attacking and devouring the numerous insects which 
fall victims to her bloodthirsty appetite. 

Perhaps you will think at first that she has 
antennae, for two short feelers (p p, Fig. 64) stand 
out in front of her head. But these, like the claws 
of the scorpion, are part of her jaws (/), and are 



fastened on to them. None of the spider family have 
any true antennae. In the scorpion we found them 
turned into pincers (p t Fig. 63) ; in the spider they 

Fig. 64. 

Parts of a Spider. 

1, Under part of a spider's body. /, Thorax or chest from which 
the eight legs spring, and to which the head is united in one piece ; 
f, fangs ; /, palpi or feelers attached to the jaws ; a, abdomen ; b, 

breathing slits ; j, six spinnerets with thread coming from them. 

2, Front of spider's head, e, Eyes ; /, palpi ; /, front legs ; 
h, hasp of fangs ; /, poison fangs ; _/, outer jaws. 

have become most dangerous and powerful fangs (/ i , 
and 7/,/2, Fig. 64), which hang down over her mouth; 
and while the scorpion carries her poison in her tail, 


the spider bears it in her head, and, as we shall pre- 
sently see, pours it into her victim through these 
pointed weapons (/). 

But now, while we are talking of her, our friend 
the spider is beginning to grow restless, for as even- 
ing draws on and the temperature of the air and 
other signs promise a fine night, she is anxious to 
spin a new web, so as not to go supperless to bed. 
Have you any idea how she does this ? for she has 
nothing but her own body both to supply the 
material and the machinery for the work. 

Look carefully under her abdomen, and near the 
tip you will find six little nipples (s), looking some- 
thing like miniature copies of the teats of a cow. 
Under these nipples, inside her body, there are special 
glands, in which a kind of gum is secreted, and this 
dries when it comes into the air, and forms the silken 
thread from which the spider hangs, and out of which 
she forms her web. And now comes the almost 
incredible part of the story. These nipples, which 
are called "spinnerets? have not merely one opening 
like a cow's teat, but each one, tiny as it is, is pierced 
with at least a hundred holes, and when the spider 
begins her web, more than six hundred separate 
strands go to make the one slender thread which 
you see stretched out from her body. The four 
spinnerets nearest the tail give out the long threads, 
the two above, moving from side to side, weave the 
whole into one connected line. Nor is this all, for 
the spider can close any of the holes at will, and a 
fine or a coarse, a dry or a spangled thread comes 
from her body, according to the use she wishes to 
make of it. 


But when the thread is made, how is it to be 
drawn out and guided on its way ? Under the 
microscope her feet are seen to be formed of three 
claws, the middle one longer and bent, so as to grasp 
the threads as she runs, and the other two toothed 
liked combs. With these combs and the spines 
and hairs upon her legs she manipulates the tender 

Fig. 65. 

Web of the Garden Spider. 

thread as it oozes from her body and does with it 
what she will. 

And now let us watch her at her work. Running 
hither and thither, she first selects a spot (c] to start 
from, and pressing her spinnerets against it leaves 
there a little lump of sticky silk. Then standing 
quite still she gives out from her spinnerets a light 
floating thread. Longer and longer it grows and 


floats in the evening air, and by and by the end 
catches on some bush, let us say at the point d. 
Instantly the spider feels the pull, and fastening the 
end out of her own body to the sticky lump c, she 
runs along the line c d, strengthening it with silk as 
she goes. That line being firm she can use it as her 
tight-rope, and running from bush to bush may either 
let fresh threads float, or carry them with her from 
point to point till she has made a square or triangle 
of threads (c, d, e, f), anchored here and there to 
the leaves and stems. And now she must make 
the cross lines, so going to the middle (a) of the 
highest line she drops down, and swinging to and fro 
catches the lower line and stretches a vertical 
cord (a 8). 

Then she is ready to begin the web. Up to this 
time she has been obliged to work slowly and with 
many difficulties, but from this moment the work 
goes on apace. Running to the middle of the line 
a b she fixes her thread there and then goes on to 
the other side, carrying the line with her and keeping 
it carefully with her feet from clinging to the one on 
which she runs. Arrived at the stretched line she 
fastens this loose thread to it at I, and so makes one 
of the spokes of the wheel. Then moving a little 
farther along she fixes another end at 2, and running 
back to the centre forms another spoke ; and so on 
through 3, 4, etc., till all the spokes are made. 
Then she goes back to the middle, and walking care- 
fully round and round the spokes lays down a 
winding thread from the centre to the outside, fixing 
it to each of the spokes by a minute drop of gum. 
At first this thread is dry and hard, but when the 


spider is at a short distance from the centre she 
changes her material and gives out a beautiful fine 
thread, spangled at every point with minute drops of 
gum, which will not harden in the air ;* so that by 
the time she has reached the end of the spokes she 
has left behind her a glorious spangled web, closely 
woven and wonderfully elastic, because the drops of 
gum yield gently as the web sways, while they are 
so sticky that no insect flying against the web is 
likely to get away again. 

In this manner, in about three-quarters of an 
hour, the nimble little spider has woven a snare 
measuring perhaps half a yard across and spangled 
with more than a hundred thousand gum-drops, and 
there is yet time for some of the late flies to be 
caught before night comes on. She has left the 
middle of the web with its dry scaffolding thread, 
because it is there that she hangs head downwards 
waiting for her prey. Sometimes, however, she will 
prefer hiding herself under some leaves in a bush, 
and then she will carry with her a strong thread (g) 
attached to the middle of the web to give her warning 
of any disturbance. And now a good-sized fly comes 
buzzing along, and running its body against the web 
gives it a shake. Instantly 

" The spider's touch, how exquisitely fine, 
Feels at each thread and lives along the line," 

and almost before you can see her, she has 'darted 

* Mr. Emerton, an American naturalist, who has watched the 
Epeira at work there, states that she lays down first a dry scaffolding 
from the centre to the circumference, and then working back again, 
destroys this hard thread as she lays clown the spangled one. Mr. A. 
Butler and Mr. Lowne, however, both assure me that they have often 
seen the English garden-spider spin her web, and that she invariably 
lays down the gummy thread at once. 


from her hiding-place to the centre of the web. 
Here she herself gives it a shake to find whether it 
will be answered, showing that a live object is causing 
the disturbance. The unfortunate fly quivers in the 
toils, betraying its whereabouts, and straight the 
spider darts upon it, and with one sharp bite ends its 
life. It is not however, strictly speaking, with her 
mouth that she has bitten it, but with those two 
poison fangs which we spoke of just now, which hang 
down over the mouth. While she was spinning her 
web, or patiently waiting under the leaves, these fangs 
(/) were shut into the cases above them (h /z) just 
as a clasp knife is shut into its handle ; but directly 
she seized her prey they were opened, and the sharp 
points driven into the fly's body gave out poison from 
their tips, and quickly put an end to its life. 

And now, being hungry, she seizes the dead fly 
with the two feelers or palpi of her jaws, and hold- 
ing it to her mouth sucks out its tender juices ; and 
she has no need to pause for breath, for you will 
remember that she does not breathe through her 
mouth. It is under her abdomen that you must 
look for the two narrow slits (b\ through which air 
is taken into sacs within her body. 

But another interruption occurs. While she is 
still busy with her meal, a fresh shake of the web 
informs her that a new victim is caught, and she 
hastens to the spot. This time it is a strong night- 
beetle which is caught in the toils, and she cannot 
grapple with him so rashly as with the fly, while his 
struggles threaten to break the net. In this dilemma 
she has a stratagem ready. Pressing her spinnerets 
against the web, she begins to weave round him a 


covering of silk, and going closer and closer as his 
legs are entangled, she twists him round and round 
with her feet till, quite enveloped, he can struggle no 
longer and receives his death-blow. 

But if by chance it had been a wasp, and she 
dreaded its sting, she herself would have torn the 
strands of the web and let it fly away sooner than 
run the risk of being the conquered instead of the 

So the garden spider lives, spreading her snares 
with wonderful skill and care, running and dropping 
from her thread with agility and precision, and 
making great havoc in the insect world with her 
poisonous fangs ; and if you ask what apparatus she 
has within to guide all these wonderful actions, we 
must go back again to the knots of nervous matter 
which we found in the body of the leech. For here 
in the spider we find that many of these knots are 
clustered thickly together in the head and neck, 
forming what might almost be called a brain, and 
connected with the line of knots running along in 
the under part of the abdomen. Thus, while the 
spider is endowed with many tools and weapons upon 
her body, she has also a strong battery of nerve 
power within to govern them. 

Nor can we doubt that she owes to the stern 
lessons of life much of her skill and intelligence. 
She has to undergo sad privations, and in bad 
weather, when starvation stares her in the face, she 
is often driven to wander in search of such insects 
as she can catch ; while long experience has taught 
her race never to spin a web when it would be 
destroyed by wind or rain, but to fast patiently or 


trust to seizing any small insects coming within her 
reach rather than to use the small stock of silk 
which cannot be replenished till she gets fresh food. 

You may perhaps wonder that all this time we 
have spoken of the spider as " she," but the truth is 
that the female spiders do most, if not all, of the 
work, for the male spiders are much smaller, and 
very rarely spin webs. They seem to live much at 
the expense of their wives, and, sad to relate, are 
very often killed by their spouses when these are 
tired of their company. 

And now, if the female spider succeeds in getting 
a living and escaping the birds and other enemies 
until the autumn, she spins a strong cocoon of 
yellow silk which she secures under some stone or 
into a crack in the wall, and though it measures 
scarcely half-an-inch across, yet she manages to pack 
into it from six to eight hundred eggs, and then 
leaves it ; and next spring, when the warm weather 
comes, the young spiders struggle out of the eggs, 
and working themselves free from the skin which 
hampers their limbs, cling together in a ball for 
about a month, and then separate and begin to spin 
webs as their mother did before them. They cast 
their skin many times before they are grown up, and 
even afterwards they creep out of it once a year and 
begin again with a fresh bright coat. 

From this garden spider we have learnt to know 
roughly the manner of life of the spinning spiders, 
and the tools with which they work ; but their 
devices for gaining a living, the nature of their webs, 
and the different nooks and corners they find for 
shelter, are almost endless. Look at the common 


house-spider instead of carelessly sweeping her web 
away, and you will find that she lays her threads 
roughly in all directions in the corner of the room, 
running from one to another till she has filled it up 
with a fine web, not sticky, but so entangled that 
the flies catch their feet in its meshes. In one 
corner you will find a little silken tube like a 
thimble which she has made as a house to hide 
in, out of sight of her prey. Her web will last 
for many weeks, while the garden-spider must spin 
afresh or mend her web every twenty-four hours, but 
on the other hand the house-spider is less likely to 
have an abundant supply of insects and her web is 
often ruthlessly destroyed. She will sometimes live 
from six to eight years, and each year she lays her 
eggs in a cocoon and hides them in a tuft of silk 
thickened with scraps of whitewash and plaster, and 
broods over them till the young ones are born. In 
the walls of some outhouse or warm greenhouse you 
may often find small spiders' webs in the summer 
time, with three or four cocoons in them, and 
numbers of tiny spiders creeping out upon the web. 

Then look carefully on a summer's morning 
among the gorse and heath of a common, and you 
will find delicate webs spread almost on the surface 
of the ground. Instead of trampling these under foot, 
seek out the centre of each web, and there, in many 
cases, you will find a hole leading straight into a 
tunnel in the ground. This tunnel will be lined by 
a tough web, while at the bottom the little spider will 
be crouching, her feet resting on the threads, and 
ready in a moment to dart out when the toils are 
shaken. This spider has learnt how to hide herself 



from the birds, the squirrels, the frogs, and the toads, 
which devour her neighbours, while at the same time 
she spreads her nets and catches the beetles or the 

Nest of one of the Trap-door Spiders. Moggiidge. 
D, The door which closes naturally by its own elasticity and weight ; 
m, marks of the spider's claws where she has held it down from inside. 

midges for her daily food. If when wandering along 
the country lanes you look carefully in the loose soil 
of the bank, or the crevices of old stone walls you can 


scarcely fail to find some of these tiny webs leading 
into silk-lined holes where the spider is waiting for 
her prey. 

Yet even these are not the most clever of all 
spiders, for on the shores of the Mediterranean you 
may find some which not only live in silk-lined 
tunnels but actually make doors to their houses (see 
Fig. 66). These doors are made of layers of web 
and earth, and they shut down naturally by their 
own weight, so as to be quite hidden by the grass 
growing over them ; but, if by chance they are dis- 
turbed, the spider herself will often rush to the top 
of the tube and sticking her claws into the door 
(D m, Fig. 66), will hold it down with all her might 
as she presses her body against the sides of her 

Now see how this spider gains her living. A 
naturalist named Erber once sat out for many hours 
on a moonlight night watching her doings, and soon 
after nine o'clock he saw two of these spiders come 
out each from their holes, and pushing open their 
doors, fasten them back by fine threads to the blades 
of grass near, and then spin a web round the open 
hole and go back into their tunnels. By and by two 
night-beetles were caught, one in each web, and in 
an instant the spiders darted out and pierced their 
victims with their poisoned fangs, sucked out their 
soft flesh and then carried the empty bodies away 
to some distance from their holes. Then Erber left 
them, and in the morning the spiders had cleared 
away all trace of the webs and were shut down 
snugly in their hidden homes. 

Which among us works more cleverly or with 


more industry for daily bread than these little 
spiders ? and they do it too among many difficulties 
and dangers, for the birds and lizards are watching 
above ground to make a meal of them, and the 
centipedes and other crawling insects creep into 
their holes to attack them. Some of them have 
learned a means of escaping even this danger, for 
they make a second tunnel branching out of the first, 
and build a doorway between the two so that they 
can retreat into the second passage in case of attack, 
and setting their back against the door baffle the 

So in the air and on and under the earth, the 
spiders spin their webs, and since they must try 
every means of gaining a living in this struggling 
world, there are some, such as the wolf-spiders, which, 
instead of spinning webs and waiting for their prey 
to come to them, search for it among the low bushes 
and leaves and grass, and use their spinners chiefly 
for letting themselves drop from a height, or for spin- 
ning their cocoons, and lining the holes in the walls 
where they retire for their winter sleep. You may 
find these running about in the woods and on heaths, 
and if you catch them about June you will find 
each one carrying a snowy-white ball under her body. 
This is her cocoon, containing about a hundred 
eggs, and if you try to take it away she will fight 
for it as courageously as any human mother. I 
took away one three times from a mother on Keston 
Common last summer, and each time she seized it 
again, and went off gaily with it at last, none the 
worse for the struggle. 

Then there are the leaping-spiders, which pounce 



Fig. 67. 

upon their prey, creeping slowly along a wall and 
sliding nearer and 
nearer, till sudden- 
ly they leap, and 
seizing the victim 
kill it, and return 
by the silken thread 
which connects 
them with the wall 
above, and saves 
them if they fall 
too far. These 
spiders often roll 
up their cocoons 
in the leaves of 
some bush where 
you may find them 
in the early spring. 
The hunters and 

leapers can often A Hunting Spide 
find food which 
does not come in the way of the web-spinners, and 
when all the domains of earth and air are overrun, 
then there are other kinds which take to the water. 
How few people think as they walk through quiet 
country-lanes, that in the deep watery ditches often 
to be found near rivers which run in low ground, 
a little water-spider may be living, coming to the 
top to breathe as a diver does, and carrying down 
air -bubbles entangled in the fur which covers her 
body and between her legs, and so filling a curious 
domed hall which she has built in the water below. 

* Dolomedes mirabilis, 

a bag f eggs ' 


It is worth some trouble to find this wonderful 
little creature, which has often been seen in the fens 
of Cambridgeshire, and in the ditches near Oxford, 
and also in Ireland, and which, though fitted to 
breathe in the air, has learnt to take refuge in the 
water, and find there her food and her home. She 
fixes her house on the stem of some water-plant, 
spinning there a thimble of delicate silk into which she 
carries air, shaken off as bubbles from her body; and 
this air rising up to the top of the thimble gradually 
displaces the water and fills the whole chamber. 
And so in peaceful but not entirely stagnant water, 

On light sprays hung, 

By silk cords slung, 

O'er-arched by a silken dome, 

Is the airy hall 

With waterproof wall 

Where the spider makes her home, 

and there she lives quite dry, and spins her silken 
cocoon with its hundred eggs, out of which come 
the young spiders which begin at once to build 
and live as she does. Even when she makes her 
journeys to the surface to catch water-flies and 
other insects, or to take breath, the water does not 
wet her, for the bubbles of air which glisten over 
her body, making it shine like quicksilver, keep her 
skin dry. 

And here we must take leave of the true spiders, 
which roam all over the world, and range in size from 
the huge hunting spiders of South America and 
Ceylon, whose legs will cover a foot of ground, and 
who have been seen to prey upon young birds and 
lizards, to the tiny red money-spinner, which is so 


light that, like others as small as itself, it is often 
carried up in the air as its thread is caught in the 
light breeze. It is probably from the threads of 
these tiny spiders that the gossamer webs are 
formed, which may be sometimes seen on a bright 
summer morning hanging in the air entangled in 
each other, either empty or with their owners within 

Fig 68. 

Water-Spider* with its dome-shaped cell full of air. 

Whether they are large or small, however, we 
find in all spiders the same poison fangs, the same 
complex thread, and the same scrupulous neatness 
and cleanliness, which makes them keep every joint 
and hair of the body free from dust and dirt, and 
leads them to avoid any dead and decaying food 
with disgust ; and a quickness of intelligence which 

* Argyroneta aquatica. 


leads them to the most curious expedients for holding 
their own in the world. 

But as in other classes, so here too we may be 
sure that lower kinds are filling nooks and corners 
left by their more advanced relations, and our 
history of the spider family will not be complete 
unless we cast a glance at the tiny insignificant 
mites and ticks, which swarm on the land and in 
the water, and live chiefly on the bodies of other 

These curious little creatures live that double life, 
which we shall find afterwards in the true insects ; 
for while young spiders are born like the mother, 
and only grow larger as they cast their skins, the 
mites run about for some time on six legs only, and 
then hiding themselves in some crack in the ground 
lie motionless for many days, and then come out 
with eight legs as minute spiders, only that their 
body is not divided, but is all one round mass, and 
they breathe by means of curious air-tubes like the 
true insects. 

It is these tiny creatures which destroy the 
leaves of our trees, by burrowing into them and 
sucking the liquid sap, leaving little yellow and 
faded blotches wherever they have been. Some- 
times you may find a leaf with a fine, almost invisible, 
web spread over its under surface, and there you 
may be sure that a complete colony of mites are 
feeding, and bringing up their little larvae or young 
ones, which, when the leaves fall to the ground will 
hide themselves under stones or in the earth, and 
come out perfect mites to take to fresh trees and 
form new colonies. Whenever you see the leaves 


of a vine spotted with red, there the red mite has 
been taking up its home ; and the gardener knows 
very well how the rose-trees and acacias will pine 
away when the mites assert their right to live upon 
them. Then too there are the water -mites which 
swarm in the snug shallows of the wayside ponds, or 
sit on the smooth leaves of the water-plants, in which 
they pierce holes for their eggs. These eggs by and 
by hatch into young larvae, some of which feed on 
plants, while others plunge their suckers into water- 
insects, and only roll off to the bottom when they 
wish to hide themselves, before turning into the 
perfect mites which again swim about in company. 

Then there are the innumerable mites and ticks 
which live in the feathers of birds, or on beetles, and 
bees, and even on their relations the spiders, while 
others burrow in the flesh of mice, dogs, and cattle, 
holding on by sharp hooks attached to their mouth, 
and sucking the blood of their victims ; and most 
of us have suffered from the bite of the harvest-bug, 
which is a true mite, and burrows under the skin of 
animals and of man himself. Among these mites 
we find, just as we did in the parasitic worms, that 
the more these tiny creatures live within and upon 
other living beings, the more do they become degraded 
and lose their active powers. 

Thus the eight- legged insects swarm in the 
fields, on the trees, and in the water, in our cheese, 
our flour, and upon other animals, and with their 
tiny weapons make good their right to live ; and 
though we scarcely recognise their existence unless 
they annoy us or spoil and destroy what we value, 
yet the life-history of the scorpions, the spiders, and 


the mites is full of interest, and if we could watch 
them all in their daily labour we should find them 
probably quite as active and industrious as man him- 
self, and in many cases struggling far more bravely 
and patiently against the thousand dangers and 
privations which threaten them at every moment of 
their lives. 




Yet hark ! how through the peopled air 
The busy murmur glows, 
The insect youth are on the wing, 
Eager to taste the honeyed spring 
And float amid the liquid noon. 
Some lightly o'er the current skim ; 
Some show their gaily gilded trim, 
Quick glancing to the sun. GRAY. 

F any of us were asked the 
question "What is the use of plants?" 
I think there is little doubt that we 
should answer " To make the world 
beautiful, the air pure, and to provide 
food for man and beast." But if the 
same question could be asked of the 
little green aphis clinging on to the 
stem of a rose-tree (see Fig. 69), he 
would know nothing of the beauty 
or the pure air, nor would he think 
of man or beast, but he would pro- 
bably, answer that " plants are made 
for plant-lice." And from his point 
of view he would be right, for there is probably not 
a single herb, or shrub, or tree in the world which 
has not its own peculiar insect, sucking the sap and 


living upon the sweet juices. We cannot do better 
than begin our history of the six-legged insects 
by these little plant-suckers which we all know so 
well, calling them " blight insects " when we find 
them covering our rose-trees, or our geraniums in 
the greenhouses, or our apple-trees in the garden. 

Fig. 69. 

The Rose-Aphides, or plant-lice. 

A, The wingless aphis, like those on the bud but enlarged, t, Honey 
tubes. B, The winged aphis, enlarged. B', Same, natural size. 
g, Blind grub feeding on the aphides. 

You may easily find them huddled together on a 
stem or bud, raised on their six slim legs, with their 
heads close down to the plant, and looking sleepily 
out of their two little brown eyes Yet they are by 


no means asleep but very busy, for their mouth, 
which, like that of all other insects, is composed of 
six parts, -is so formed that they can plunge it deep 
into the stem and suck and suck all day, filling their 
round green bodies with sweet sap. A wonderful 
little mouth it is, the two lips being joined together 
into a kind of split tube, out of which are thrust the 
four jaws, in the shape of long thin lancets, to pierce 
the plant. When once these insects have fixed 
themselves they never seem to tire of sucking, but 
take in so much juice that, after passing through the 
body, it oozes out again at the tail and the tips ot 
two curious little tubes (/, Fig. 69) standing up on 
their backs. This juice, falling on the stems and 
leaves of the plant, covers them with those sticky 
drops often called " honey-dew." 

It cannot be said that these little insects lead 
very exciting lives, for they make no homes, neither 
do they take any care of their young ones, and only 
move about when they wish to fix upon some new 
spot ; and yet they are very interesting, both because 
the ants visit them to sip their sweets, as we shall 
see in Chapter XII., and also because they manage 
to live in such numbers in spite of being so helpless 
and stupid. 

The secret of this is that they have a special way 
of sending young ones into the world. If you look 
at a stem covered with plant-lice towards the end of 
the summer, you will find among the wingless sucking 
insects some larger ones straggling about the plant (B, 
Fig. 69) which have delicate transparent wings. These 
are the fathers and mothers, whose wings have grown 
gradually under their splitting skins, and they will 


lay the eggs to be hatched next year. But if you 
look in the early spring you will find no winged 
plant-lice or aphides, but only the little round-bodied 
green forms, and yet new ones are constantly appear- 
ing ! Where do these come from ? 

Do you remember how the hydra of the jelly-fish 
went on budding and budding for years before another 
true egg-bearing jelly-fish appeared? (see p. 64). Now 
we have an insect doing the same thing, for as soon 
as one of these wingless aphides is about ten or twelve 
days old, there come from her body not eggs, but 
young living aphides like herself, three, four, or even 
seven a day, which struggle over the backs of their 
companions till they find a clear spot on the stem, 
where they fix their mouths and suck like the others, 
only moving to struggle out of their skins about 
three or four times a day, till they are full grown. 
Then these young ones begin to bud in the same 
way in their turn, so that in a very short time from 
two or three mothers -a whole plant is covered. In 
fact it has been reckoned that a single aphis 
may give rise in one summer, to a quintillion 
(i ,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) of 
little ones ! 

After this we shall not be surprised that the 
plant-lice have taken possession of so many of the 
green things in the world, and the only wonder is 
that they have not destroyed them all. This they 
would certainly have done if it were not for their 
enemies ; but the birds delight in them as dainty 
morsels, beetles and earwigs devour them, and flies 
lay eggs in their bodies, while the lady-bird eats no 
other food ; and the blind grub of a fly (Musca 


aphidivord] glides about on the stems (see g, Fig. 69), 
seizing the aphides in his mouth, sucking out their 
juicy bodies, and dropping the empty skins by 

And now if once your eyes are open to see these 
tiny juice-suckers, you may find numbers of different 
kinds living their little lives in the fresh country air. 
Have you never picked up an apple-leaf or elm- 
leaf covered with something looking like tufts of 
white cotton, so sticky that you cannot clear your 
fingers of it ? If so, look carefully at it next time 
you find it, and under each white tuft you will see 
an insect struggling along which is like a rose-aphis, 
only without the little tubes on its back. In fact 
this fluffy stuff is a kind of wax which oozes out 
with the sweet liquid all over the body of the insect, 
protecting it from the sun and from enemies as it 
feeds, and making it look like a lady in a feathery 
white ball dress. Some species'" of these fluff-covered 
aphides fasten on to the stems of apple-trees, and 
have been known entirely to destroy them. Then, 
again, there are others which eat their way into the 
leaves of trees, making rosy bladders upon them, 
while others attack the wheat or the hops. In mild 
seasons, when these insects increase rapidly, they have 
been known to destroy a whole hop-harvest. 

Nor are the aphides the only plant-suckers. Look 
at the bushes in summer and you cannot fail to see 
little clusters of froth here and there (Fig. 70), known 
as cuckoo-spit, because they first appear at the time 
when the cuckoo sings. Move this froth carefully, 
and in the middle of it you will find the cuckoo-spit 

* Myzoxyle mali and Eriosoma lanigerum. 



grub (c) which has given out this froth in bubbles 
from its tail, to shelter it from the burning sun and 
hide it from the birds as it sits and sucks the sap. 
But in the autumn the "spit" if not dried up will be 
empty, for the insect after losing its last covering-skin 

Fig. 70. 

C, Cuckoo-spit insect* coming out of the froth. F, The same insect 
when its wings are grown, and it is known as the Frog-hopper. 
P, Red Cabbage-Bug, t 

has come out with wings a little brown frog-hopper 
(F, Fig. 70) which pats down upon your hand, and is 
gone again in a moment before you have time to 
examine the wonderful beauty of its wings. Then, 
again, there are the numberless little scaly plant-lice 
which spend their lives flattened against the stalks 

Aphrophora spitmariq. 

t Pentato/uii ornata. 


and branches of shrubs, looking like little lumps upon 
the stem, so that while the cuckoo-spit is protected 
by its froth the scaly plant-lice often escape by their 
likeness to the colour of the shrub on which they are. 
It is to these animals that the beautiful cochineal 
insect of Mexico belongs, and also the lac insect of 
India, which gives out the red lac used in the manu- 
facture of sealing-wax. 

Al! these are plant -suckers, and rarely move 
any distance from their home ; but there is another 
group which has learnt to run actively in search 
of food, of which some suck the juice of plants, 
while others have made use of their sharp lancet 
mouths to steal the blood of animals. These active 
suckers are the air-bugs and water-bugs; and though 
we dislike the name because one ugly wingless 
species haunts our own rooms when we do not keep 
them clean, yet many are very beautiful creatures. 
Look among the cabbages in the garden, and you 
will scarcely fail to find a pretty little red and black 
bug (P, Fig. 70) running over them, and piercing the 
leaves for their juice ; while a grey one with black, 
red, and yellow spots, is busy at work on the rasp- 
berry fruit. If you touch or frighten these plant- 
suckers, the disagreeable smell which they will give 
out from their bodies will suggest to you at once 
that they belong to the bug family. 

Then there are those curious thin-bodied insects 
which skim over the ponds in the summer, actually 
running on the top of the water, for which reason 
they are called " water- measurers" (m, Fig. 71), 
because their legs when stretched out seem to mea- 
sure off the water as they go along. These ghost- 



like looking insects are water-bugs, whose mouths are 
made for sucking like the land-bugs, and woe betide 
the little water-flies which come in their way. Pro- 
tected themselves from the water by a thick coating 
of plush under their bodies, they glide along silently 
and rapidly, and seizing their prey hold it in their 

Fig. 71. 

M, The Water-Measurer.* B, The Water-Boatman, f 

fore-legs while they suck out the juices. Thus these 
active little creatures have learnt to find food on 
the water which their land relations cannot reach, 
.while a still bolder race, the water-boatmen (B, 
Fig. 71), which lay their eggs on the leaves of the 
water-plants, dive into the water carrying their air 
with them, and feed upon the tadpoles and water- 
grubs below. 

* Gerris. 

j- A T ol(mecta glauca. 


In any pond in the summer time you may see 
these agile insects rowing themselves along, under-side 
uppermost, by their two long hind legs, and poking 
their tails out of the water to take in air under their 
wings. Then as they row themselves down again you 
can see bubble after bubble escaping from the tail till 
they come up for more. You might think they were 
water-beetles, but their strong wings which they use 
to leave their ponds by night are all four made use 
of in flying, whereas in beetles the two front wings are 
only stiff covers to preserve the delicate ones under- 
neath. Moreover, these bugs have the same lancet 
mouths as the plant-lice, with which they pierce the 
skins of the tadpoles, soft grubs, and other water 
animals near the bottom of the pond and suck out 
their bodies, leaving nothing but the empty film-like 
skins. They are most voracious animals and will 
attack even small fish. Their habit of moving up- 
side down is of great use to them in feeding, for 
many of their victims have hard backs, so the water- 
boatmen dive down and come up under their prey, 
thus attacking them on their soft side. 

Thus we see that the sucking lice and bugs with 
their beak-like mouths have bored their way into all 
kinds of living food ; into plants, shrubs, and trees in 
all countries, and into the flesh of men and animals 
both on the land and in the water, for many of 
the lice on birds and other creatures belong to this 

And yet in spite of their numbers they are not 
nearly so destructive as the next class of insects we 

* Called Hemiptera, or half-winged (hemi, half; ptcron, wing). 


must speak of namely, the straight-winged insects,* 
the grasshoppers, crickets, locusts, and cockroaches, 
which are not content with sucking, but tear and 
devour the grass and leaves with their strong jaws. 
These greedy devourers are a very ancient race of 
land-insects, and in fact if we attached importance 
to pedigrees they should have come first in order ; 
for at the time when the piece of coal you put on 
your fire to-day, and which has been lying for untold 
ages in the earth, was part of a living forest, grass- 
hoppers, crickets, and cockroaches were already creep- 
ing, leaping, and chirping in the dense jungle of ferns 
and reeds, where they left the remains of their bodies 
among the decaying plants, so that we find traces of 
them now in our coal-mines. From that time till 
now they have struggled on, and while the crickets 
have learnt to burrow long tunnels underground to 
hide themselves in, and have homes in the cracks of 
walls and in company with the cockroaches in the 
nooks by our firesides, the locusts and the grass- 
hoppers have contented themselves with the open 
fields and protection of the trees. 

When all the birds are faint with the hot sun, 

And hide in cooling trees, a voice will run 

From hedge to hedge about the new-mown mead 

That is the grasshopper's : he takes the lead 

In summer luxury he has never done 

With his delight, for when tired out with fun 

He rests at ease beneath some pleasant weed. 

Let us look closely at him (Fig. 72), for he is so 
large that he will help us to understand the general 
structure of a six-legged insect better than we could 
have seen it in the tiny bugs. 

* Orthoptera (ortJios, straight ; pteron, wing). 


We see at once under his wings that he has a 
ringed body like the prawn, but his head is separate 
from his shoulders, and carries only one pair of 
antennae, while the prawn has two. His mouth, with 
its two little palpi sticking out, is strong and power- 
ful, and is made of six parts an upper and lower 
lip, with a pair of biting jaws within them which 

Fig. 72. 

Large Green Grasshopper.* 

g, Very young grasshopper ; g ', the same older straggling out of its 
skin. G, Full-grown female grasshopper laying her eggs in the earth. 
o, Her ovipositor or egg - laying sheath ; s, one of the spiracles or 

move to and fro sideways to hold and cut their food, 
and within these again are a pair of chewing jaws to 
masticate it. These six parts, however much they 
may be altered, we shall find in all six-legged insects, 
and whether for piercing, sucking, or gnawing they 
are powerful implements. 

* Cryliits viriJissimia* 


Next behind the head of the grasshopper cones 
his chest or thorax, formed of three rings, each of 
which bears a pair of legs, and the two hinder ones 
two pairs of wings, while the shoulders are covered by 
a shield. Behind this again comes the ringed abdomen 
which he can curve and bend at will. Now, on looking 
carefully along the sides of these rings you will see a 
dark spot (s) on each, and a magnifying glass will 
show that this spot is a round plate with a slit in the 

middle (s, Fig. 
73). These are 
the breathing - 
holes or spiracles 
of the grasshop- 
per, and if you 

S, Spiracle or breathing-plate (s, Fig. 72), were to Cut his 

with the slit in the centre which opens to take body Open under 
in air. 

T, Part of the breathing-tubes or trachea, water you would 

showing the spiral thread which keeps the see hundreds of 

tubes in their round shape. minute glistening 

tubes called trachea (T, Fig. 73), running in all 
directions and ending in larger tubes, each of which 
is joined to one of these breathing -holes. These 
tubes are formed of two layers, between which is 
wound round and round a stiff wiry thread (see Fig. 
73), which keeps the tube in shape, just like the spiral 
wire which they put into india-rubber tubing. The 
glistening is caused by the air which has been taken 
in at the breathing holes, and fills all the tubes. 

If instead of cutting open the grasshopper you 
keep him alive under a glass, you may watch his 
abdomen moving up and down and pumping the air 
in at the slits, and that air will pass all through his 


body along these infinitely fine branching canals. 
Here we have the secret why insects leap, and 
fly, and run so easily. Think how beautifully light 
a body must be which instead of containing solid 
flesh is full of channels of air. Lyonnet counted 
1572 tubes in a caterpillar's body, and even then 
left many smaller ones unnoticed ; while some 
insects, such as the bee and the grasshopper, have 
not only air-tubes but actual bladders of air filling 
large spaces in the body. Nor is it only lightness 
which insects gain by this network of air -tubes, 
for their blood being bathed in air is always full of 
oxygen, and therefore active and vigorous, supplying 
their nerves and muscles with strength quite beyond 
what we should expect for their size, and helping us 
to understand why they have been so successful in 
the battle of life. 

So the grasshopper with his large fixed eyes with 
many hundred windows in them (for structure see p. 
224), his delicate feelers, his strong jaws, his long 
muscular hind legs, and his light body, is an active, 
powerful insect, and an especially greedy feeder. 
Indeed he has between his throat and his stomach 
an apparatus called a gizzard, with more than 200 
teeth in it, for grinding the food which he has stripped 
off the bushes and meadows with his cutting jaws. 
Even our little grasshoppers in the meadows and the 
large green grasshopper living in the trees devour 
greedily all that comes in their way, but their ravages 
are as nothing compared with those of the large 
migratory locusts with short antennae, which multiply 
at an incredible rate in favourable seasons, and move 
in swarms over the south of Europe, darkening the 


sky for miles and devouring every green thing upon 
their road 

Onward they come, a dark continuous cloud 
Of congregated myriads, numberless. 
The rushing of whose wings is as the sound 
Of a broad river headlong in its course, 
Plunged from a mountain summit, or the roar 
Of a wild ocean in the autumn storm, 
Shattering its billows on a shore of rocks ; 

and as they move they leave desolation behind them. 
Every leaf on tree and bush, every blade of grass, 
every ear of corn, vanishes under their attacks. In 
I 866 in Algeria they not only destroyed the vege- 
tables, fig-trees, vines, and olives, but fell into the 
canals and brooks in such numbers, that the stench 
became horrible, and the French troops were called 
out to destroy them and collect their bodies in heaps 
to burn them ; and similar locust plagues cause great 
devastation in America. 

These locusts put their eggs into the earth and 
cover them up, and the young locusts come out ready 
at once to begin eating, and exactly like the mother 
only without wings, which appear later when the last 
loose skin is cast off. Our little green grasshoppers 
are locusts with short antennae, and drop their eggs 
in this way, but crickets and true grasshoppers, of 
which our large green grasshopper (Fig. 72) is one, 
have a very curious and interesting implement for 
laying their eggs in the earth safe from harm. The 
mother has a pointed egg-laying sheath or ovipositor 
(o, Fig. 72), at the end of her body, made of several 
thin plates touching at the edges, and with this she 
bores a hole in the ground, and then opening the 
sheath drops egg after Ggg in to lie till next spring, 


when they are hatched, if they escape being devoured 
by underground creatures. Then as each mother has 
perhaps laid between two or three hundred eggs, it 
is not surprising that the ground and bushes are 
covered with tiny grasshoppers leaping and feeding, 
but without wings. At this time they will all be 
silent, and as they go on growing will cast skin 
after skin, till, when the sixth skin is being thrown 
off (g t Fig. 72), their wings appear; and then the 
young male grasshoppers begin to rub their front 
leathery wings sharply against each other, so that 
from their base, where they have a talc -like plate 
with strong ridges upon it, that shrill cry arises by 
which they call to their friends. 

The crickets, on the other hand, will not be seen 
in the daytime, for they hide in holes in the ground 
till night falls, and then come out for food and 
enjoyment. The only way to entice one out by day 
is to tickle the hole with a straw, when they will 
seize it, and so can be pulled out. 

In the same way the house cricket hides in its 
hole behind the oven, where it first came from the 
egg, and only ventures out to leap and fly about the 
kitchen at night, when it steals the bread-crumbs and 
flour, and sips the milk and beer. Often it will begin 
its chirp long before it comes out, and 

" On a lone winter's evening, when the frost 
Has wrought a silence, from the stove there thrills 
The cricket's song," . . . 

for the warmth keeps him awake and alive. But if 
you leave the room through the winter without fire, 
then he will sleep in the cracks of the chimney till 
the warm weather comes back. 



All these are leaping " straight-winged " insects, 
and, like the plant-lice, they feed on vegetable food. 
But the cockroach, which is not a " black beetle," as 
people call it, nor a beetle at all,* but one of the 


/, Female with aborted wings carrying her case of eggs, c ; 
m, male with wings flying ; y, young cockroach. 

straight-winged insects, has its legs formed for run- 
ning instead of leaping, and eats all kinds of food, 

* I would beg every reader of this book to begin to try always to 
give the cockroach its true name, for though the false name may be 
long in disappearing, the confusion might be gradually got rid of if 
every child used the right word. 


whether animal or vegetable, not even sparing our 
dish-cloths, if they have any grease upon them. 
Though we have most of us had cockroaches at one 
time or another in our houses, few people know any- 
thing of their history ; of the fact that the mother 
has only imperfect wings, while the father can fly 
about ; or that when a cockroach changes its skin it 
comes out white and soft, and is some time before it 
regains its dark reddish -brown colour. Nor is it 
likely that many people will have found the curious 
little horny cases of eggs (c, Fig. 74), shaped some- 
thing like a bean, and divided inside into separate 
compartments, which the mother carries about with 
her, half out of her body, till the eggs are nearly 
hatched, when she hides it in the cracks of the boards 
and mortar of the ovens. These cases contain about 
sixteen eggs, ranged neatly in two rows, and the 
edges of the case are strongly cemented together. 
As soon as the eggs are hatched, the young 
cockroaches give out a fluid which loosens the 
cement, and they come out into the world small, 
wriggling creatures (j, Fig. 74), with all the rings 
of their body conspicuous, because their wings are 
not yet grown. 

But above all, few people probably would give 
cockroaches credit for being intelligent animals, and 
yet an escape of cockroaches which happened in the 
house of a friend of mine shows them to be more clever 
than is generally supposed. The house being infested 
with these anrmals, the cook laid a trap to catch them, 
made of a box with two strips of glass sloping in- 
wards from the sides, and it happened that the edges 
were only about an inch from the bottom of the 


inside of the box. In this trap she caught many 
cockroaches, for after getting in they could not mount 
on the glass again to get out But one evening, 
having noticed that the trap was nearly full before 
she went to bed, she was surprised in the morning to 
find that all the bait was eaten, and every single 
insect had escaped. This happened several nights, 
and at last she resolved to watch. On doing so she 
saw one of the larger cockroaches stand upon his 
tail, and so reach up with his front feet to the edge 
of the glass, and then all the other cockroaches ran 
up his back out of the box, he dragging himself up 
last and escaping with the rest. In the open country 
cockroaches have many enemies which keep them in 
check ; birds and hedgehogs devour them, and bees, 
ants, and wasps, especially the sand-wasps, hunt them 
down ; but in our houses nothing but cleanliness and 
killing every one we meet with can rid us of this 
terrible pest. 

And now we must pass over the other straight- 
winged insects : the Earwig, which uses its pincers to 
fold its wings neatly under its wing cases and watches 
over its eggs with a mother's care ; the Mantis or 
snatching insect, which in warm countries creeps along 
the branches of trees, with its forelegs up as if pray- 
ing, but really in readiness to snatch any passing fly 
or insect; and the Leaf and Stick insects, which feed 
on green leaves, and are protected from the birds by 
looking so exactly like the leaves and stems of the 
trees they crawl upon, that you may touch them 
without dreaming that they are living animals. All 
these are wonderful examples of the tricks which life 
has taught to her children for protection and attack, 


but, with the exception of the earwig, the creatures 
employing them belong to other countries than ours, 
and we cannot dwell upon them, for we must turn to 
another group, the " nerve-winged insects,"" 5 '" which we 
meet with every day, and whose history is perhaps one 
of the strangest among insects. 

In the time of those ancient coal-forests of which we 
have spoken, when the grasshoppers and cockroaches 
lived upon the land, another race of insects, belonging 
half to the water and half to the air, were spending 
their youth in the ponds and marshes, and hovering 
over them in their riper age. These were the ances- 
tors of our May-flies and dragon-flies, and from that 
day to this they have kept up this strange existence, 
hunting and chasing their prey at the bottom of 
ponds until the time comes for their wings to grow, 
and then climbing up the water-plants, and bursting 
forth into glorious winged animals, which 

" To the sun their insect wings unfold, 
Waft on the breeze, or sink in clouds of gold ; 
Transparent forms too fine for mortal sight, 
Their fluid bodies half dissolved in light." 

Every one who has been on a warm summer's day 
near the borders of a lake or pond, must have seen 
those delicate and fragile flies called May-flies (mf, 
Fig. 75), which dance in the sunshine, flag as the sun 
goes down, and die in the night. They are not difficult 
to know with their widespread unequal wings, their 
short delicate antennae, and their bodies ending in 
three long fine bristles; and they do nothing but rise 

* Called Neuroptera or " Nerve- winged," on account of the net- 
work of veins in the wings. 


and fall in and out in a mazy dance ; for they have 
but a few hours to live, and their mouths are too soft 
for them to take food. In fact, the whole end and 
aim of their winged life is to form and lay eggs in 

Fig- 75- 

May-fly * and Caddis-fly, t Life size. 

mg, May-grub, with its fringe of breathing gills ; mf, May-fly ; 
eg, caddis-grub in its case ; cf, caddis-fly. 

little packets on the water to hatch into future young 
ones. And yet they are not really mere " creatures 
of a day " as they have been called, for before they 

* Ephemera. t Phryganea. 


obtained their wings they lived for nearly two years 
at the bottom of the pond over which they now fly. 

Their real life is that of a water-insect (ing), which 
as soon as the eggs are hatched, dives to the bottom 
of the pond and burrows in the ground or under 
stones, and feeds upon all passing insects, seizing 
them with strong spiny jaws, and devouring them 
greedily. At this time the May grub does not 
breathe through holes in the side, but has its body 
fringed with gills or delicate folds of skin which take 
in air out of the water, and there is nothing in its 
appearance to lead any one to believe that it could 
ever live in the air. But as it grows up and loses one 
loose skin after another, the rudiments of wings are 
seen through the transparent covering, and then the 
end of its life is beginning. It creeps out upon some 
plant or stone overhanging the water, the skin cracks 
down the back, and the flying insect comes out with 
its wings perfectly visible. Still it cannot use them, 
for a fine film covers the whole body, and it is only 
a few hours after, when this has dried and split, that 
the perfect May-fly soars away an air-breathing insect, 
to lay its eggs and die. 

We need not then pity these frail, delicate eph- 
emera on account of their short life, for they have 
had a long and merry one feeding in the pond below, 
and when we see them, they are taking their last 
enjoyment before night falls. 

The same thing is true of the caddis-flies or water- 
moths (cf, Fig. 75), which anglers use as bait, for 
they too cannot feed after they get their wings ; but 
their life in the pool below has been rather different. 
Their tail is soft like that of the hermit-crab, and they 


need to liide it in some strong covering. And for 
this purpose they build themselves tubes of silk, into 
which they weave pieces of wood and grass, or of 
sand and stone, and even sometimes shells with living 
creatures in them ; and dragging these tubes about v/ith 
them, they put out their strong head and shoulders, 
and feed on plants and insects. Then when the time 
comes for their change they draw back into their case, 
and closing it with a grating of silk at each end, so 
that water can get in while enemies are shut out, 
they lie still for a fortnight, like a caterpillar in its 
chrysalis, and then swim out and creeping up some 
plant burst their covering skin, and hover over the 
pond, or rest upon the bushes till their eggs are laid, 
and they die. 

Thus, the May-fly and Caddis-fly live chiefly in 
the water, finding plenty of food during all their 
growing time, while they have but a short glimpse 
of the pleasures of the air. Not so, however, the 
gorgeous-winged Dragon-fly. He manages to make 
the most of both worlds, and, whether he is crawling 
in the water below, or flying in the air above, is one 
of the most voracious and bloodthirsty of insects. 

Even when he is a water-grub, though he moves 
very slowly, yet the quickest of insects cannot escape 
from him, for he has a peculiar under lip (in, Fig. 76), 
very long and with two sharp hooks at its broad 
end, with which he seizes them. This lip folds back 
by a kind of hinge, and is called a mask, because 
it covers the lower part of his face, and makes 
him look an innocent and harmless creature. The 
moment an insect comes by, the lip is shot out, and 
the pincers grasp the prey, throwing it into his mouth 



as the mask again closes. So gliding stealthily 
along the bottom, the greedy creature seizes all that 
comes in his way grubs, worms, water-slugs, and 
even small fish, are all attacked by him ; and though he 

Fig. 76. 

Life of the Dragon-fly,* about half life-size. 

a, Giub living in the water ; m, mask or long lower lip with which 
it seizes its prey ; b, dragon-fly creeping out of its last grub skin ; (, 
perfect dragon-fly on the wing. 

is sometimes devoured in his turn by other animals, 
yet he often escapes, for he breathes by taking in 
water at his tail, and when he wishes to get out of 

* Libellula. 


the way, he shoots this water out, and drives himself 
along much as we saw the octopus do, only that the 
dragon-fly grub goes forwards instead of backwards. 
So in a year he grows big and strong, and short 
wings begin to appear under his skin. Then he 
crawls listlessly to the top of a plant, and there 
dragging himself out of his covering, he gradu- 
ally expands his large gauze wings filled with 
delicate air channels, and shaking free his sharp- 
clawed feet, is at once ready for new victims. His 
large gleaming eyes with their thousands of windows 
(often 12,000, each with its 
own i ens an d cone and rod, 
see Fig. 77) espy a butterfly 
or a moth, and in an instant 
he is pursuing it, flying 
upwards, downwards, and 
sideways, without turning, 
by means of the peculiar 
muscles by which his wings 
work upon his bulky shoul- 
Section of an Insect's Eye. ders, while his long body 

a, Nerve-mass of the eye ; b, serves as a rudder. And 
nerves springing from it ; c when he hag caug h t his prey, 
the retina ; d, thread-like rods r J 

by which the picture is formed ; he tears it savagely with 

e, glass-like cones ; //, lens-like n j s horny jaws, scattering 
facets, of which each eye may . , . . 

have from 10,000 to 20,000. lts shattered wings upon 
the ground. Much as we 

admire the beautiful colours and magnificent wings of 
the dragon-fly, we must admit that when he reckons 
back his ancestors through the dim ages to those 
distant coal-forests, he must look along a line of the 
most greedy and cruel marauders of the insect world. 


Nor has he been content with ravaging the 
water and the air only, for one of his very near 
relations, the ant-lion (JVfyrmeleon formicarius) 
which is to be found in France and most warm coun- 
tries, and which when it has its wings might be 
mistaken for a dragon-fly lives its early life in dry 
sand, in which it twists round and round, till it has 
made a funnel-shaped hole at the bottom of which 
it lies (see plate, p. 135). This it does near an ants' 
nest, and when an ant running on the edge of the 
funnel slips in, the ant-lion flings sand upon it so 
that it tumbles to the bottom, and he can devour it. 
Thus in the water, on the land, and in the air, the 
dragon-flies have a good time of it, if they can only 
escape the swallows and other quick -flying birds, 
which pounce down upon them, and the scorpion- 
flies, which, though much smaller than themselves, 
sting them to death. 

And now we come to the most interesting of 
all the nerve-winged animals, the Termites or white- 
ants, the plagues of India and Africa. Every one 
has heard of these destructive creatures, which feed 
so cunningly out of sight, eating their way from the 
ground beneath, up the middle of posts, beams, 
woodwork, and furniture ; and even sometimes prop- 
ping up with hardened mud and slime the build- 
ings they are eating away, so that no one finds 
them out till all at once some part falls down and 
exposes the rottenness within. They are so clever, 
and have so many habits like true ants that they 
have been called by their name, and most people 
think that they are their near relations. But this is 
not so ; on the contrary, while the ants stand at the 



head of the most highly developed insects, and have 
a helpless infancy, and a true chrysalis state before 
they are fit for work, the termites have come along 
quite a different line, and belong to those ancient 

Fig. 78. 

African Termites * taken out of their home. 
Winged king ; /', same after losing his wings ; <f, 
w, worker ; s, soldier. All natural size. 

queen ; 

nerve-winged insects, which work from their earliest 
age, and have no time of rest to prepare for their 
grown-up life. So when we find these "white- 
ants " living together, and building houses, and having 
workmen and soldiers besides the true king and 

* Termes bdlicosus. 


queen of the nation, we see that they must have 
learned these habits quite independently of the true 
ants, with which they have nothing to do. 

A strange and wonderful thing a termite com- 
munity is. Perhaps in India you find one day that 
the sill of your window or the post of your door 
is rotten, and then when you begin to cut it you 
find it completely hollowed out into little cham- 
bers, the wood being eaten away. At first these 
chambers are empty, but as you go on, you find 
small soft white insects with six feet running hither 
and thither. These insects are quite blind and 
wingless, and always work in the dark. Even if 
they come out on the surface of the wall or the 
ground, they cement wood-dust together, or carry up 
clay to make a tunnel, under cover of which they 
travel up and down. In a single night a tube may 
appear all up your wall, which is a termite tunnel, 
built to enable the insects to reach some fresh store 
of woodwork. If you watch you may see the tunnel 
grow at its open end, as one little white grub after 
another comes to the opening and laying on its little 
bit of mudwork, goes back to make room for the 
next. Mingled with these workers are much larger 
insects, also blind and wingless, with huge heads and 
jaws shaped like jagged stilettoes. These are the 
soldiers ; they do not work but defend the labourers, 
hanging on to any enemy with their sharp pincers, 
and allowing themselves to be torn to pieces rather 
than give way. 

And now as you penetrate farther and farther 
through the woodwork and probably down into the 
ground belcw, the small chambers begin to be filled 


with little white eggs, and with snow-white young 
workers and soldiers, which feed on a kind of mouldy 
fungus growing on the walls of their rooms. At last 
in the midst of these you come upon a large cell with 
a long soft whitish-brown lump in it as big as your 
finger, and looking something like an uncooked 
sausage (Figs. 78 and 79). At first you would 
think this was a mere bag, but looking at one end 
you would see three rings, each with a pair of legs, 
and a head (/if, Fig. 79)- with eyes and feelers and 

Fig. 79. 

Part of a Queen Termite Cell broken open to show the Queen within. 


Jit, Head and thorax, a, abdomen of the queen ; o, only real 
openings in the cell when it is perfect. The workers pass through 
these, -w w, Workers. 

mouth. This white lump, then, is part of a living 
creature ; it is the abdomen of a termite queen 
swollen to nearly 2000 times its natural size and 
full of eggs. There she lies with her husband (k y 
Fig. 78), who is much bigger even than the soldiers, 
but nothing as compared to his queen, crouching by 
her side ; and while the working termites feed her and 
caress her, she goes on laying eggs incessantly, about 
60 a minute. These the workers carry away as fast 


as she lays them, and store them in the nursery- 
chambers around ; but the holes through which they 
pass out of the queen's cell (o, Fig. 79) are far too 
small for either of the royal pair to escape. 

The history of this curious community has been 
as follows : About two years ago, before the heavy 
autumn rains began, this king and queen, with thou- 
sands of others, were born from the eggs of another 
huge queen, and when they had cast their skin, 
they came out each with four gauzy wings, and flew 
into the country, or often into the houses if their 
nest was in a town. But their bodies were heavy 
and their wings weak, and so they soon fell to the 
ground, where nearly all their companions were eaten 
by birds and ants and other creatures. They, how- 
ever, chanced to escape, and losing their wings were 
found by a party of working termites. At once these 
active wingless workers carried the royal pair into 
their tunnel, and built a clay chamber round them, 
with only small openings in it (Fig. 79), not large 
enough for them to get out. There they fed them 
carefully, and by and by the abdomen of the queen 
began to swell, and from that time her whole mission 
was to lay eggs. As her size increased, the workers 
enlarged her chamber, and meanwhile were toiling 
busily making nurseries for the eggs, and storehouses 
for the shavings of wood and masses of vegetable 
gum, which they collected by burrowing in every 
direction through living trees, or beams, or wood- 
work of any kind. 

You may imagine how many nurseries must be 
built, besides new rooms for grown-up workers, if 
80,000 eggs are laid every -iay ; and besides these 


nurseries there are innumerable galleries and passages, 
which are all so arranged that air passes through the 
whole building. The work goes on in perfect order ; 
some tend the queen, and all show her the ' utmost 
attention and affection ; some store the eggs ; some 
look after the young ; while others enlarge the build- 
ing or tunnel for long distances underground to get 
food. And all this is done by blind workers in pitch 
darkness, with a regularity and precision which is 
most marvellous, and can probably only be accounted 
for by the supposition that their antennae are far more 
delicate and useful implements than we can as yet 

There are many species of these Termites. Some 
live in buildings, and the town of La Rochelle in 
France where they have probably been brought from 
the West Indies, has been sadly damaged by them. 
Others in Africa build enormous mounds of clay and 
earth (see Fig. 78), as much as from twelve to twenty 
feet high, and so strong that the buffaloes stand 
upon them to look over the plains ; and inside these 
are innumerable galleries and floors of storehouses 
and nurseries. If an attempt is made 'to destroy 
these mounds the soldier termites, which are about 
one in a hundred as compared to the workers, swarm 
out and fall upon the enemy, while the workers begin at 
once to repair the damage. Other species build nests 
in tall trees, driven there, no doubt, to escape from the 
true ants, which, having hard bodies, can attack the 
soft termites and destroy them easily. Lastly, there 
are some which come above ground and march from 
place to place like a regular army ; and these are the 
most remarkable, for not only have the soldiers and 


workers eyes so that they see their way, but Smeath- 
man, who studied them in Africa, saw the workers 
marching in regular streams or columns twelve or 
fifteen abreast, guarded by the soldiers, while sentinels 
were placed on plants along the road. These 
soldiers struck the leaves every now and then with 
their jaws, making a ticking noise, to which the 
workers answered with a hiss and then quickened 
their pace. 

And here we must end our history. There is pro- 
bably nothing more curious in the whole insect world 
than the termite communities ; for these children 
of Life have learnt lessons far above any of their 
near relations, while the necessity of preparing for 
and tending the eggs which the queens lay at such a 
prodigious rate, makes the whole nest a constant 
scene of activity and contrivance. The study of 
their habits and customs is one of the greatest 
possible interest, but here we must content ourselves 
with a mere general glimpse, and with establish 
ing firmly in our minds the fact that the "white 
ants " of India and Africa are quite a different race, 
and belo?ig to a totally different order of insects, 
from their darker namesakes in England. They 
belong to the nerve -winged insects, and together 
with all those included in this chapter they are born 
in the same shape as their parents, only without wings. 

For we shall notice that the aphides and the 
bugs, the grasshoppers and cockroaches, the may- 
flies and dragon -flies, as well as the termites, change 
their coats as they grow too small for them, creeping 
out of their skins many times in their lives. But 
they do not change their bodies, as we shall see in 


the next chapter is done by the caterpillars and 
butterflies. Neither have they, with the exception of 
the caddis-flies, any time of trance as the caterpillar 
has in its chrysalis. They are active from birth to 
death, and though, when their time for laying eggs 
comes, they put forth wings to carry them to their 
mates and to suitable spots for laying, still they have 
not yet fallen upon the expedient of taking a time 
of rest and forming a new and beautiful body. 




And many an antenatal tomb, 
Where butterflies dream of the life to come, 
She left clinging round the smooth and dark 
Edge of the odorous cedar bark. 


MONG all the strange and 
puzzling facts in the history 
of living things there is per- 
haps none which has at- 
tracted so much attention as the 
complete metamorphosis or change 
in the bodies of insects, by means 
of which a creature begins its life 
in one form, then hangs itself up 
in a hard skin or a silken shroud, 
or buries itself out of sight, and 
comes out at last so totally differ- 
ent in appearance, that if we had 
not watched it passing from the one 
shape to the other we could never 
have believed it to be the same creature. 

Who would believe at first sight that a butterfly 
or moth had once been a creeping caterpillar ; or 
that the hurrying busy beetle and the active fly had 


burrowed as maggots or grubs in decaying matter, or 
in the trunks of trees, or in the fruits and flowers of 
plants ; or still less that each active hopping flea 
once rolled about helplessly as a little hairy grub 
and span a tiny silk cocoon, in which its present 
body was formed ? 

To those who have only paid attention to the 
higher animals, such as birds, fishes, and quadrupeds, 
which, when they are born have already assumed a 
fairly settled form, this springing up of one being 
out of the husk of another apparently quite unlike it, 
seems strange and unnatural ; and in olden times all 
kinds of fanciful ideas were connected with the 
metamorphosis of insects. But if we begin, as we 
have now done, by Life's simplest children, and see 
how in each successive group the necessity for 
making the best of everything causes many creatures 
to alter their form and habits at different periods of 
their lives, then these curious changes in insects have 
a real meaning, and we can set to work patiently in 
the hope of discovering what advantage they are to 
the creature which undergoes them. 

Thus, for example, we have already found the 
sponge beginning as a swimming animal (see p. 38), 
and then drawing in its lashes and settling down to 
build a solid skeleton clothed with a colony of cells ; 
while the lasso-throwers begin by swimming, go on 
as stationary, branching and budding animals, and 
end by throwing off egg-bearing jelly-bells quite as 
unlike the animal tree as a butterfly is unlike a 
caterpillar. In the star-fish and sea-urchins the 
transformation scene is still more curious, for the 
jelly-animal is swimming about and feeding with its 


special mouth and stomach (see p. 78), while a 
second and differently shaped form, with a mouth 
and stomach and feet of its own, is growing up 
inside ; yet both these beings are part of one single 
creature, and when the form within is ready to get 
its own living, it swallows its earlier self and goes its 
way. So too the headless mollusca, such as the oyster 
and cockle, swim about in their young life and have 
eyes which they lose when they settle down, while the 
crab undergoes such complete changes (see Fig. 59, 
p. 167) that no one would recognise parent and child 
if they saw them together. 

We learn then that it is not the exception, but 
in many cases the rule for a creature to take on 
different forms at different times of its life ; and the 
chief novelty in the metamorphosis of insects turns 
out to be that they have learnt to do one thing at a 
time, and after passing their early life in incessant 
feeding and storing up of material for a more perfect 
body, they retire from the world to spend all their 
energy in building up those new and beautiful bodies 
which we admire so much in the lovely painted 
butterfly or the gorgeous metallic-winged beetle. 

Nor shall we wonder that this quiet is necessary 
when we understand the marvellous change which 
takes place in them. The cockroach and the cricket 
only gain wings by their last change of skin, and 
though the May-fly alters its apparatus for breathing 
so as to be able to live in the air, still the greater 
part of its body remains the same. But the cater- 
pillar and the grub have actually to remodel every 
part of their bodies in order to become the butterfly 
or the beetle, and we can scarcely say that any 


portion of them remains as it was, except that 
mysterious life-power which brings to them from past 
generations the experience to guide them in their 
development and their work. Yet so true is this 
experience, so well has the lesson been learnt by the 
countless ancestors which have gone before, that 
among the thousands of different kinds of grub, 
and maggot, and caterpillar, each follows its own 
peculiar road as its forefathers have done before it, 
and wrapping itself in its own special form of covering, 
goes through its curious change, and comes out as 
fly, butterfly, moth, or beetle, with those weapons 
and ornaments which it needs for the rest of its 

Of all the marvels of life, surely this is one of the 
most marvellous, and why or how each one puts on its 
peculiar dress we can scarcely ever hope to know. But 
we may gain some slight idea of the general process 
by which a creeping worm is changed into a winged 
insect ; and to do this let us sketch out the life of 
the common Tortoise-shell butterfly which Mr New- 
port watched through all its changes nearly fifty 
years ago. 

It is under the fresh green shoots of the common 
nettle that the tortoise-shell butterfly -mother lays 
her cluster of eggs in the early summer, after she has 
crept out of the crack in the wall or paling, where 
she had remained hidden for her long winter sleep. 
Coming out with worn wings and faded colours, she 
enjoys a short flight in the sunshine with others of 
her kind, and then leaves her eggs where the young 
will find food, and goes her way to die. And in a 
week or two, when these eggs are hatched, there creep 



out little yellowish-grey caterpillars, and these give 
out at once a fine silken thread from their under lip 
and spin a slight web over a leaf. This done, they 
crawl away in company and travel from leaf to leaf, 
feeding busily all day but always returning to their 
silken tent at night. They have no thought beyond 
eating as they move along on their ten cushion feet, 
two at the tail and four under the abdomen (cf, Figs. 
80 and 8 1), which are not true feet at all but foldings 
in the skin, each bearing a circle of spines which 

, Butterfly's head ; t, the trunk ; c e, compound eyes ; c, caterpillar's 
head ; a a, antennae ; m m, mandibles ; p p, palpi of the jaws ; sp, 
spinning - tube ; cf, cushion -foot seen from underneath, showing the 
circlet of spines ; e, egg of the tortoise-shell butterfly. The true size 
is about that of a rape seed. 

help it to cling to the twigs. Their six real jointed 
feet (f, Fig. 81, p. 239) near the head, they use 
both for walking and for grasping the leaf, while 
they cut it with their horny mandibles or outer jaws 
(m, Fig. 80), which work horizontally between their 
lips, and then pass the pieces on to be chewed by the 
real jaws within, whose palpi or feelers are seen at/. 
Thus they " feed and feed alway," guided probably 
chiefly by touch and taste, though they have tiny 


simple eyes. They do not need to pause for breath 
since that is taken in through the holes in their 
sides (b, Fig. 81), and they eat so greedily that after 
a time their skin becomes too tight for the food they 
are packing into it. Then they pause and turn pale 
and remain still for a while, after which each one 
bends up his back, swells out his rings, and so splits 
the inconvenient coat along the back. Then drawing 
out first his head and then his tail, he comes out fresh 
in colour with every joint and hair in its place, and 
begins gorging once more. This they do as many 
as five separate times, and at the end of these 
changes their new form is already growing within 
them, for if you cut open a caterpillar just before it 
casts its last skin, you may see the outline of the 
wings and antennae of the future butterfly in a 
watery state, each in its transparent sheath. 

And now they must shut themselves up from the 
outer world, for each one has to make a sipping 
mouth instead of a biting one, and to gather up his 
muscles to make his shoulders strong to bear his 
wings ; and above all he has to draw together the 
line of nerve knots which in the caterpillar are 
stretched along his body as we saw them in the 
leech (p. 143), but which in the butterfly must be 
concentrated so as to make great central nerve 
stations in the head, for the use of the large eyes and 
sensitive antennas which are coming, and other sta- 
tions under the shoulders to supply his wings with 

So each caterpillar again leaves off eating, and 
finding some firm spot on the trunk of a tree or a 
post, or a stem of a plant, makes there a little hillock 



of silk, and clinging to it by his hind feet, lets him- 
self swing head downwards (Fig. 8 1). Then his head 
and shoulders begin to swell, the nervous knots within 
his body to draw together, the air-tubes to expand, 
and the skin to crack, so that by vigorous efforts he 

Fig. 8 1. 

C, Caterpillar hanging by its two cushion feet cfat the tail, the other 
eight cushion feet are in the middle of the body, f, The six tine feet ; 
i>, breathing holes. D, Chrysalis breaking through the caterpillar skin. 
B, Perfect tortoise-shell butterfly, 

can push his whole body covering back to his tail, 
where at last it drops off, leaving him hanging by 
some small hooks at the end of his body. A curious 
fellow he looks now as each part of the future -butter- 
fly is dimly seen in its protecting sheath, His tiny 


wings, his six true feet, his antennae, and his sipping 
trunk, have all begun to form, but are far from com- 
plete ; and to keep them safe till they are full grown, 
a clear fluid oozes out and flows over all, hardening 
into a firm transparent case ; and as in some butterflies 
the reflection of light from the under surface of this 
case has a golden tint, the name of chrysalis (chrysos, 
gold) has been given to the still and quiet form ; 
but the word pupa (doll) is perhaps better, because 
many have not this golden hue. 

It is within this sheath that in about three weeks 
the butterfly's body is gradually formed, and all the 
fat which the caterpillar had stored in the spaces of 
its body is worked up into muscle and nerve and 
egg-producing parts. At last all is complete ; the 
head, shoulders, and abdomen have taken on their 
real shape ; the delicate tinted scales which cover the 
wings, and deck them with gorgeous colours,*" are 
full grown ; the wings themselves, made of two layers 
of skin between which are the air-tubes and the 
veins presently to be filled with colourless blood, are 
all ready ; while the little pockets in the body which 
make the full-grown insect so much lighter than 
the caterpillar, are waiting to be expanded with air. 
The nerves begin to send messages to the limbs to 
move, and the perfect butterfly, splitting its trans- 
parent covering, creeps out into the world, slowly but 
surely inflates its body and wings, and letting them 
dry in the sun, soars off to sip the flowers and find 
a mate. 

But what a different creature we have here from 

* Hence the name Lepidoptera (lepis a scale, pteron a wing), or 
scale-winged insects. 


the creeping, gnawing, spinning caterpillar ! The two 
lips of the caterpillar with the silk-spinning tube (sp, 
Fig. 80) in the lower one, are reduced to mere frag- 
ments, the horny mandibles (m m), no longer needed 
now the chief feeding time is past, have almost dis- 
appeared, while the two inner jaws are drawn out into 
long hollow channels and fit together so as to form 
the delicate tube (/) which is to suck honey from the 
flowers. The tiny eyes (e) of the caterpillar, if they 
are still to be found in the forehead, are quite in- 
significant when compared with two large, many- 
windowed eyes (e e] which now stand out on each side 
of the head to warn the rapidly-flying insect of danger 
from all directions. The tiny stunted antennae of the 
caterpillar have become long and delicate. The 
shoulders, grown firm and strong, carry the six slender 
legs, and two pairs of wings which are worked by 
powerful muscles ; and over these wings is spread a 
carpet of beautiful scales, each one fitting by means of 
a little tube into the wing, and the whole making a 
brilliant pattern to attract the eyes of the mate 
which the butterfly now wishes to find. The abdomen 
has lost on the outside the cushion feet which are no 
longer needed, while within, the long digestive tube 
which it had as a caterpillar has become quite small, 
making room for an apparatus for forming and laying 

And yet though such a total remodelling has 
taken place, there has been no such thing as death 
and new life between the caterpillar and the butterfly. 
Though the chrysalis hung in such a still and death- 
like form, it was the same living insect, breathing 
almost imperceptibly, and able to move slightly if 


touched. Only the life within it, which in the first 
stage was busy storing up material in the caterpillar, 
was entirely occupied during this second stage in 
moulding that material into the future butterfly, 
which in the third stage as a perfect insect completes 
the history. 

We see then, that one of the great questions in 
all creatures which remodel their bodies must be, 
how they can keep themselves from danger in this 
second stage when they are so helpless. Some go 
through their changes quickly, and then they are 
comparatively careless of anything but to choose 
a secluded spot. Our tortoise-shell butterfly, for 
example, hangs very insecurely by the slender thread 
of her chrysalis. But then she is generally but little 
more than a fortnight or three weeks completing 
her change, and even when born in the autumn she 
becomes a butterfly before the winter, and goes to 
sleep in this form, hiding in the chinks of walls or 
palings, or in the bark of trees, till the warm spring 
comes round unless, indeed, some mild day in 
January wakes her before her time, when she gener- 
ally dies as the penalty for mistaking the season. 

But the common cabbage butterfly, if born late 
in the year, often remains as a chrysalis from Sep- 
tember to April, and would hang very unsafely 
exposed to the rough winds if merely attached by 
the tail. So the caterpillars of this butterfly, as of 
many others, bind themselves firmly to the paling or 
wall by a narrow band of silk. If you can catch 
sight of this caterpillar just when beginning its 
change, you may see it first make a little tuft of silk 
(t, Fig. 82), in which it plants its tail, and then 



turning back its head, pass the silk from its tip 
across and across the body (b &), so that by and by 
when the skin is shed, the chrysalis remains firmly 
tied to the paling. 

One of these two ways of fastening themselves 
are followed by almost all the caterpillars of butter- 
flies, except a few which roll themselves in leaves or 
bind themselves in slender webs. But the moth- 
Fig. 82. 

Caterpillar and Chrysalis of Cabbage Butterfly * bound to a paling. 

t, Tuft of silk holding the tail ; b b, Silken band securing 

the chrysalis. 

caterpillars are much more clever at hiding, and in 
many ways are more interesting than those of butter- 

Naturalists are in the habit of dividing the Lepi- 
doptera or scale -winged insects into moths and 
butterflies, and although there is no real distinction 
between them, yet in a general way it is not difficult 
to tell them apart. 

A moth, as a rule, lays its wings down upon its 

* Pieris brassica. 


back when at rest, while a butterfly folds them up, 
back to back against each other, and though some 
moths copy the butterflies in this, they are not many. 
Again, most butterflies have their antennae thick 
at the tip, while those of moths are more generally 
fine at the end, and thicker in the middle, and are 
often beautifully feathered, but this rule also is not 
without exceptions. Again, the wings of moths are 
fastened together by a kind of hook, which makes 
them work much more strongly, and not with the 
irregular movement which we find in butterflies ; 
lastly, the shoulders of moths are broader than 
those of most butterflies, and less distinctly divided 
by a waist from the abdomen. By some of these 
characters, as well as in many cases by their noc- 
turnal habits, moths may be generally known, al- 
though it must be remembered that they are such 
near relations to the butterflies, that no clear line can 
be drawn between the two. 

But in their habits and devices, the moths far 
outstrip the butterflies. It is their caterpillars which 
among the sphinx moths remain motionless for 
hours on twigs with the head bent down, so as 
to look like part of the bush ; thus escaping the 
notice of the birds, which would eat them, and of the 
ichneumon-flies which would lay their eggs on their 
bodies. And these same caterpillars, when the time 
of their rest comes, burrow into the ground, and line 
their home with varnished silk, so that no water can 
creep in. Here, safe and sound from wet and cold, 
they cast off their skin for the last time, and lie as 
pupae during the long winter, till the warmth of June 
wakes them into moth life. 


It is the caterpillars of moths, too, which spin 
those silken cocoons which hang from tree or bush, 
or under walls and palings ; homes so delicate, and 
yet so dry and snug, that the tender pupa lying 
freely inside them is like a child in its warm bed at 
night. Any one who has kept silkworms will 
know how cleverly the caterpillar, bending its head 
back towards its tail so that its feet are outside, 
begins its outer egg-shaped layer of silk by moving 
its head to and fro in some nook or corner, and 
leaving a bed of fluff within which it spins the coil 
of finer silk. You may watch the cocoon growing 
for a time as the caterpillar's head moves round 
and round in an oval form, leaving its silken trail 
behind it. But gradually the meshes grow finer and 
finer, and you can no longer see through them, while 
still the industrious creature goes on till its head has 
been round the oval at least three hundred thousand 
times, and it has made a stout cocoon. 

Once safe inside its silken house, it pushes off its 
caterpillar skin and remains a protected pupa for a 
fortnight or more. Then, if you have not already 
robbed it of its silk, the moth, after it has crept out 
of the pupa skin, must work its way through the 
cocoon. This it does by giving out a liquid which 
is contained in a little bladder in its head, and 
soaking the silken wall so as to separate the threads 
and make a path for itself to the outer air. But 
curiously enough it will not attempt to fly far, for the 
silkworm moth, belonging as it does to a genus 
already feeble in flight, and having besides been 
kept in confinement for generation after generation, 
makes scarcely any use of its wings. 

2 4 6 


Out of just such cocoons as this, but of coarser 
make, with a tiny hole left at one end, come the 
beautiful emperor-moth, the night peacock, and the 
curious Oak-eggar moth, whose caterpillar sleeps 
all through the autumn and winter before beginning 
to feed and spin its cocoon ; while the Burnet moths 

Fig. 83. 

The six-spot Burnet-Moth.* 
c, Caterpillar ; co, cocoon ; m, perfect moth. 

(Fig. 83) often spin very thin cocoons covered with 
a kind of varnish which makes them as strong as 
parchment. With a little trouble you may often find 
the empty cases of these and other moths left on the 
grass and bushes in July and August, when the insects 
are fluttering over the gardens and fields. But the 

* Zyg<zna filipenditla. 



cocoons of the Procession-moths, which climb the 
oak-trees at night to feed, you will find all enclosed 
in one large nest of silk, for these caterpillars live 
in companies in a hanging web, and when they are 

Fig. 8 4 . 

ready to remodel 
their bodies, they 
strengthen the web 
with their moulted 
skins, and lie all 
together, each spin- 
ning his tiny cocoon 
round his body. 

Again, there are 
many caterpillars 
which have not suf- 
ficient silk to spin 
a whole cocoon, and 
they have learnt 
other devices. Thus, 
some of the sphinx 
caterpillars make 
cocoons of dried 

leaves, woven to- Psyche graminella. 

"Cther and lined g, Front part of the caterpillar with the 
In'fl-i cilt anH rnll^rl six true feet C > Case f Straw ' and S raSS 

with silk, and rolled covering the rest of the caterp iiiar, and in 

Up in these, they lie which it will hide as a chrysalis ; m, perfect 

under the cover of moth - 

some stone or bush. The hairy caterpillars also, many 
of them use their hairs for the cocoons, binding them 
together with a little silk ; while a group of moths 
called Psyches (Fig. 84), because they are so small and 
light, come from caterpillars, which, as soon as they are 
born, take pieces of straw, or leaf, or grass, and bind 


them together into cases, in which they live, feeding 
under cover of the little house, which they enlarge 
from time to time, and use later on to shelter their 
chrysalis. It is worth noticing that these cater- 
pillars, living in a case, do not need broad false-feet 
to clasp the stems, so these are reduced to quite small 
cushions, with a ring of strong hooks to hold fast 
to the case. Then there are the leaf-rolling cater- 
pillars, which twist up the margins of leaves, and use 
their silk to bind them into tubes for their resting- 
places, while the huge caterpillar of the Goat-moth 
gnaws its way into the old trunks of willows and 
elms, and after feeding and tunneling there for three 
years, creeps just under the bark, and gums together 
a cocoon of. powdered wood lined with soft silk, in 
which it lies safe and snug till transformed into the 
large and beautiful moth. 

It would require a whole volume to trace out the 
many devices of the moth-caterpillars to escape their 
enemies ; and to find shelter from wind and weather 
during their retreat from the world, in some cases of 
weeks,, and in others of many months. But, with 
the exception of the Goat-moth, all those of which 
we have spoken feed openly as long as they are 
caterpillars on the leaves of trees and plants, and 
have no special means beyond their green or brown 
colour, or sometimes their nauseous flavour, for elud- 
ing their persecutors. It remained for the tiny Leaf- 
miners to find out the plan of living between the 
two sides of a leaf, and so eating their way peacefully 
in covered galleries. These little caterpillars coming 
out of their eggs on the under side of a rose-leaf, or 
honeysuckle leaf, bore at once into it, and creep 



along eating the flesh of the leaf between the two 
surfaces, till they are full fed, and then they pierce 
through the upper skin, and creeping out spin those 
curious little orange cocoons which you may find in 
the summer clinging to the stems of roses. If you 
haveonce looked for the tracks of these tiny insects,you 

Fig. 85. 

may easily find them 
showing as pale wavy 
lines on the honey- 
suckle and other leaves. 
So you may also 
trace lines something 
of the same kind, but 
more unpleasant in 
our eyes, on our own 
woollen clothes which 
have been laid by for 
the summer. These 
are made by cater- 
pillars of the same 
family as the leaf- 

. J , L The Clothes-Moth.* 
miners, but as there are 

. . g, Grub feeding in its woollen tube 

no covering skins here t . ^ nake d grab taken out of the 

between which they can tube ; /, pupa hanging in the tube; 

lie, the clever little fel- m ' moth ' 

lows build tubes for themselves (t, Fig. 85) out of the 
wool which they tear off the clothes. They live in 
these just as the Psyche caterpillars live in the grass 
tubes, and when they are going to remodel their bodies 
they close one end of the tube and fasten it to the 
side of the box or cupboard (p, Fig. 8$), and then 
turning themselves with their head to the open end, 

* Tinea tapetzdla. 


are ready to come out when they have developed 
into those little grey moths we know but too well. 

And here we must leave the butterflies and moths, 
without touching upon those moth-caterpillars which 
live in the water, or those which steal the honey from 
the bees, or the tiny butterfly-caterpillars which live in 
the clover and grass, and whose eggs we tread upon 
as we walk. Each little butterfly or moth which we 
watch gamboling in the sunshine, or disturb from its 
sleep in the hedges or on the moss-covered walls, has 
its own habits and history, its favourite plant on which 
it feeds and to which its caterpillar feet are often spe- 
cially adapted, its time for flying and for resting, its 
special hiding-places for its pupa, and its own lovely 
markings on the wings, which when open attract its 
mates, and when closed often shelter it by making it 
look like the plants upon which it alights; while many 
moths which fly at night have even a peculiar scent 
by which they find each other in the dark. And one 
and all have their object in life the male butterflies 
to find a mate, and the mothers to find the plant on 
which they themselves fed as caterpillars, there to lay 
their eggs. Moreover, they are unconsciously doing 
useful work, for as they pass from flower to flower 
sipping the honey, they carry the pollen -dust on 
their bodies and fertilise the lovely blossoms which 
enliven our fields and hedges, and in so doing help 
to make the seeds which grow up into fresh plants 
for those which come after them. 

But as these delicate children of Life flutter 
through the world, innumerable dangers meet them 
on their way as caterpillars, pupae, and butterflies, 


hundreds are destroyed by birds and by other insects, 
while the pitiless wind and soaking rain of our English 
summers often batter their tender wings before they 
can creep under shelter. In this respect they are far 
worse off than our next group, the Beetles, which are 
gnawing insects during both the active seasons of their 
life, and whose front wings are not used in flying, but 
form those beautiful sheaths called elytra,"" 7 which so 
often make these insects look like brilliant jewels. 
These elytra in many beetles are very hard and 
strong, and serve to cover up safely the pair of large 
transparent hind wings which are used in flying. 

There can scarcely be any doubt that the beetles 
are especially well provided with weapons for fighting 
the battle of life, for they have not only managed to 
spread into every country on the globe, but are by 
far the most numerous of all insects. From the huge 
Goliath beetle of Africa, five inches long, down to the 
minute rove -beetles which give such sharp pricks 
when they fly into our eyes on summer evenings, 
beetles are of all sizes, and live in almost all con- 
ceivable ways. While many feed on plants, others 
are fierce hunters and even cannibals, devouring 
each other in the most cruel manner, while a very 
large number feed on dead and decaying matter and 
are most useful scavengers, and not a few feed on 
animals when young, and plants after they awake 
from their long sleep. For beetles, like butterflies, 
have three lives first as grubs or maggots ; secondly 
as helpless pupae or swaddled insects ; and it is only 
when they come to the third stage that they are true 
beetles, with wings and the power of laying eggs. 

* For this reason they are called sheath-winged insects, or Coleoptera 
(koleos sheath, pteron wing). 



The cockchafer or May-bug, which blunders up 
against us as he flies heavily in the night air, began 
his life underground more than three years ago. 
His mother, groping down into the earth in the early 
spring, hid herself there and laid from thirty to forty 

Fig. 86. 

Life of a Cockchafer.* From Blanchard. 

g, Young grub feeding in the earth ; c, cocoon; S, a cocoon cut 
open to show pupa of the cockchafer with beginning of wings. Above 
ground the cockchafer is shown both walking and flying, e, Elytra, 
or wing-covers. 

eggs, which, at the end of about five weeks, were 
hatched and became blind white grubs (g, Fig. 86) 
with six slender black legs and hard horny jaws. 
After a short time these grubs set to work to gnaw 

* Meklonlha vulgaris. 


the tender roots of the young summer plants, and 
during the next three years fed vigorously under- 
ground, eating first what was near them and then 
making galleries in all directions, and devouring the 
roots of strawberry plants or rose-trees, oats or corn, or 
clover, till many were devoured themselves by moles 
and hedgehogs, or, if they ventured too near the 
surface of the ground, by rooks, crows, and magpies, 
which sit upon the clods and pick them out of the 
loose ground. Those which escaped and they are 
usually many burrowed down deep in the winter 
out of the way of frost and wet, to come up agan^ 
in the spring to feed afresh. But at the end of the 
third year, after having shed their skins several times, 
they laid themselves down to rest in the earth, and 
giving out a kind of sticky froth, which they bound 
with threads of silk into a cocoon (c, Fig. 86), they 
split their last grub skin and remained as pupae or 
swaddled insects (/), with their imperfect wings 
folded over their legs and antennae. Then early in 
the fourth year, about April, the true cockchafer 
began to stir in the cocoon and crept out of the 
ground, hungry with its long fast, and flying up to 
the trees began to gnaw and eat for the short two 
months remaining of its life, and it is then that we 
meet with it flying from tree to tree, and browsing 
with its strong mandibles on the leaves of the oaks 
and beeches and maples. 

The history of the cockchafer is that also of many 
other beetles. The grubs of the beautiful golden 
green rose-beetle, and many others, live underground, 
feeding on the roots of plants, and the great stag- 
beetle whose sharp jaws as a grub enable him to 


eat into solid wood, only makes this difference, that 
he spends his three or sometimes even six years of 
childhood in the trunk of an old oak-tree, gnawing 
away at it for his daily meal, and only sees day- 
light when he eats his way out as the perfect beetle. 

Fig. 87. 

The Nut Weevil* 

TO, The perfect weevil ; m, head of the maggot eating its way out 
of the nut 

But the little weevils with their curious snouts 
(Fig. 87), which they use for piercing holes in which 
to place their eggs, love best the centre of flowers or 
tender leaves, or especially fruits and nuts of various 
kinds, for their nursery. When we crack a nut, and 
find a fat white maggot inside, we have disturbed 
the forerunner of one of these little weevils, which, 

* Balaninus tiucum. 


if the nut had remained on the tree, would by and 
by have worked its way out (m, Fig. 87), and fallen 
to the ground, where it would have gone to sleep all 
through the winter, to wake with a long thin snout, 
and a pair of delicate wings hidden under its beauti- 
ful brown wing-cases. The pea-maggot, on the other 
hand, would, if we had left it alone, have lain down 
just within the delicate skin of the pea, and there 
been transformed into a tiny brown beetle spotted 
with white. 

Many of the weevils do indeed eat the bark, and 
wood, and roots of trees, for they are a very numerous 
family, and must find food where they can, but the 
greater number of them feed on fruits, buds, flowers, 
and grains of all kinds, so that you need only hunt 
among the acorns, and wheat, and rape, and turnips, 
to make acquaintance with these tiny beetles ; or if 
you seek out the faded dingy -brown blossoms on 
an apple-tree, which remain when the other bright 
blossoms are turning into fruit, there you may find 
either a tiny chrysalis, or a short -snouted weevil, 
which has lived all its life in this blossom since its 
mother laid the egg in the early spring, and whose 
food, as a maggot, has been the tender centre of the 

These are all plant -eating beetles, and they, or 
some of their comrades, may be found on every plant 
or tree, nay, you may even shake a shower of them 
out of the folds of a large mushroom, though they 
are so small you must get a microscope to see them. 

But the Tiger-beetle with its brilliant golden green 
wing-cases, the Bombardier - beetle (see Plate II. 
p. 135) which shoots out a vapour from its tail 


when it is attacked, the common garden beetle or 
Carabus which pours a black fluid on your fingers 
when you catch it, and even the delicate little Lady- 
bird, which is a true beetle, are all animal feeders, 
and they destroy a whole host of insects, such 
as aphides, caterpillars, weevils, cockchafers, centi- 
pedes, and flies. The young wingless lady-bird 
creeps after the aphides, eating them one by one 
up the stem (as we saw the blind -grub of the fly 
doing in Fig. 69), while the grubs of the tiger-beetle 
have a most cunning way of catching their food, for 
they bury themselves in the soil with their mouths 
just above the ground, so that the ants and small 
insects run heedlessly into their jaws. 

These, and many other beetles, feed greedily upon 
living creatures, and are quite as eager hunters of 
small animals as lions and tigers are among large 
ones. You need only watch the ugly cocktail beetle 
(Plate II. p. 135) scampering after some insect, or seiz- 
ing upon one of its weaker brethren as it cocks up its 
head and tail, and snaps its sharp jaws, to understand 
how aggressive these creatures can be. Among the 
water-beetles too, though some, such as the black 
water -beetle,"" are vegetarians, yet many are most 
voracious and c ucl ; the true water-beetlef (Fig. 88) 
which dives and swims so powerfully with its broad 
hind legs, and carries air under its closed wing-cases, 
is one of the most greedy of water animals, both as a 
grub and beetle. Not only does it devour the gruds 
of may-flies, dragon-flies, and other pond insects, 
but it feeds on snails, tadpoles, and fish ; taking 
care, however, to burrow deep in the earth out of 

* Hydrophilus. 1" Dyt.ais jtiarginalis. 



the way, when its helpless season comes, lest some 
of these creatures should return the compliment. 

This beetle is strong and powerful, and looks like 
a dangerous enemy ; but who would think that the 

Fig. 88. 

Carnivorous Beetles. Natural size. 

D, True water-beetle ; * g, grub of the same, showing its powerful 
pincers and strong head ; w w } whirligig beetles. + 

tiny bronze-coloured \vhirligig beetles t which look so 
bright as they dance on the top of the pond, are 
also voracious insect- feeders ! Watch a group of 
these bewildering little animals carefully, and you 
will see one here and one there dart up to catch 

* Dyticus marginalis. "f Gyr'mirJoe- 


a passing fly, or down rapidly to seize some 
tiny water insect, or to escape an enemy that is 
approaching. For, in fact, these beetles have an 
unfair advantage in life, having each of their eyes 
divided in two parts, one half looking down into the 
pond below, and the other half up into the air, so 
that they can literally keep " half an eye " upon any 
suspicious creature in either element. Theirs is a 
life of many experiences, for after beginning their 
existence on the surface of water-plants, where the 
mother places the eggs, they dive down as grubs to 
the bottom of the pond, breathing by hairy gills, and 
leaping actively here and there by four curious little 
hooks on their tails, feeding vigorously all the while ; 
then they creep up into the air, and spinning fine 
cocoons upon the leaves of a water-plant, remodel 
their bodies ; and finally, as tiny beetles they lead a 
giddy life on the pond-surface, darting here and 
there as fancy guides them. 

But, quick as these and many other water and 
land beetles are, both in catching and escaping other 
animals, it is a curious fact that it is among the 
scavenger and filth-feeding beetles that we must look 
for the highest intelligence these creatures possess. 
It is the dung-feeding beetle, the sacred Scarabaeus 
of the Egyptians, which rolls up a ball of dung 
with her hind legs, and then sometimes alone, some- 
times in company with another beetle which hopes 
to share or steal the booty, rolls the ball to a con- 
venient place, and digging a hole by means of the 
large spines on her front legs, buries it and herself 
with it, so that she may feed upon it in safety. 
Then later on in the year she hollows out a closed 


chamber and fills it with prepared dung in which to 
lay her egg.'"" It is again among the carrion beetles 
that we find the " Sexton," burying dead animals care- 
fully under the soil, and then laying her eggs in them. 

The history of these sexton beetles is most extra- 
ordinary. They hunt in couples, male and female, 
often many couples together, and wherever they find 
a dead bird or mouse, rat or frog, they first feed till 
they are satisfied, and then drag the body to a soft 
place in the ground. Here the male beetles set to 
work, and with their strong heads dig a furrow all 
round the animal, then another and another, till little 
by little the carcass sinks down, so that actually in 
about twenty-four hours it is below the ground, and 
they can cover it with earth, burying the mother 
beetles with it. Then the fathers too burrow down, 
and all is quiet and still but not for long, for no 
sooner has the mother beetle laid her eggs in the 
dead body safe out of sight of all enemies, than both 
mother and father make their way out of the earth 
and fly away. Meanwhile, the eggs left in the de- 
cayed body are soon hatched, and the grubs feed for 
three or four weeks, and then each building a cell, 
lies down to undergo its change, and comes out of 
the earth a perfect sexton beetle. 

At first sight it seems almost impossible that 
such small creatures can bury others so much larger 
than themselves, yet Miss Staveley.t a good authority, 
states that four of these beetles have been known to 
bury in fifty days, four frogs, three small birds, two 

* For an interesting account of these beetles, showing that the 
idea of an egg being contained in the rolling ball is erroneous, see 
M. T. H. Fabre, Souvenirs Entonwlogiques, Paris, 1879. 

t British Insects, p. 74. 


fishes, one mole, two grasshoppers, the entrails of a 
fish, and two pieces of ox-liver ! Which among us 
works harder than this to provide food for the little 
ones who come after us? Or who can say that 
these little beetles do not do their share of good in 
the world, when they clear away masses of decaying 
matter which would poison the air, burying it in the 
best of all purifiers, our mother earth ? 

So feeding on plant or animal, in the land or in 
the water, the beetles, with their strong-jointed legs 
and powerful jaws, make their way in life. You 
have only to watch a beetle forcing its way under a 
clod of earth, to see how powerful their muscles are ; 
indeed, it has been estimated that a cockchafer can 
draw a weight fourteen times as heavy as itself, 
while the bee-beetle""'' can draw forty times its own 
weight, and many of the feats of beetle -life beat 
those of any athlete among men. Yet we find that 
they are not wanting in cunning too, for who has 
not seen the common skip-jack beetle drop on the 
ground when alarmed, and drawing in its legs and 
antennae, lie on its back, and pretend to be dead 
till the danger is past, and then with a sudden click 
of its breast-plate, spring up in the air and come 
down upon its legs ? But we must pass by many of 
these curious histories, such as that of the parasitic 
beetles which introduce the eggs of their young into 
the bee's nest, where they feed upon the honey, and 
of the blind beetles which live among the ants, and 
must even neglect the soft-skinned glow-worms with 
their phosphorescent light in the last three rings 
of the abdomen, and the beautiful fireflies of warm 

* Tr if hins fasciatus. 


tropical countries, which are near relations of the 
skip-jack, and have two bright shining spots upon 
their shoulders. We might trace out in the lives 
of many of these beetle families the peculiar shape 
of jaws, le^s, antennae, and the peculiar colours of 
their wing-cases which fit them for the work they 
have to do, but such knowledge is the work of a 
lifetime, and at least a few words at the end of this 
chapter must be given to the third group of animals 
which remodel their bodies, namely the t wo- winged * 
flies and gnats. 

Does it not seem strange that while butterflies 
and beetles, dragonflies and grasshoppers, and even 
bees and wasps, have all two pairs of wings, yet our 
common house-fly and bluebottle, in many other 
ways so like bees, have only one pair ? This, how- 
ever, will not seem quite so strange if you look care- 
fully just behind the wings of the fly, for there you 
will find on each side a little stalk with a knob at the 
end, which the creature uses to balance itself as it flies. 
These two stalks are the remains of the second pair of 
wings, which, for some reason unknown to us, must 
have been a disadvantage to the ancestors of the fly, 
and this is all that remains of them. If you cannot find 
them easily in the fly, where they are concealed under 
some little winglets, you will see them clearly in a 
gnat, or, better still, in a daddy-long-legs, in which 
they are so distinct that you may examine them 
without catching or hurting him, by simply putting a 
tumbler over him where he stands and slipping a 
piece of paper underneath. 

* Diplera (from dis t twice ; pUron* wing). 


These "balancers" tell us that the two-winged 
flies, the gnats, mosquitoes, midges, bluebottles, house- 
flies, and cattle-flies, are not made on a different 
plan from the four-winged insects, but are merely 
flies whose hind wings have lost their size and power, 
while the front ones have become stronger and larger. 
This has evidently been no disadvantage in their 

Fig. 89. 

b, Balancers. 

case, for they have flourished well in the world, and 
myriads are to be found in every town and country, 
while their different ways of living are almost as 
various as there are kinds of fly. Some, such as 
the daddy-long-legs, suck the juices of plants, some 
suck animal blood, some live on decaying matter ; 
while in not a few cases, as among the gadflies, the 

* Tipula. 


father is a peaceable sucker of honey while the mother 
is bloodthirsty. 

Among the gnats and mosquitoes the father dies 
so soon that he does not feed at all, while the mother 
has a mouth made of sharp lancets, with which she 
pierces the skin of her victim and then sucks up the 
juices through the lips. Among the botflies, however, 
which are so much dreaded by horses and cattle, it is 
not with the mouth in feeding that the wound is 
made. In this case the mother has a scaly pointed 
instrument in the tail,"" which she thrusts into the 
flesh of the animal so as to lay her eggs beneath its 
skin, where the young grub feeds and undergoes its 
change into a fly. 

For we must remember that every fly we see has 
had its young maggot life and its time of rest. Our 
common house-fly was hatched in a dust heap or a 
dung heap, or among decaying vegetables, and fed in 
early life on far less tasty food than it finds in our 
houses. The bluebottle was hatched in a piece of 
meat, and fed there as a grub ; and the gadfly began 
its life inside a horse, its careful mother having placed 
her eggs on some part of the horse's body which he 
was sure to lick and so to carry the young grub to 
its natural warm home. 

But of all early lives that of the gnat is probably 
the most romantic, and certainly more pleasant than 
those of most flies. When the mother is ready to lay 
her eggs she flies to the nearest quiet water, and 
there, collecting the eggs together with her long hind 
legs, glues them into a little boat-shaped mass and 

* A similar instrument may be seen in the daddy-long-legs if you 
happen to catch a female ; she uses it to thrust her eggs into the earth. 


leaves them to float. In a very short time the eggs 
are hatched and the young grubs swim briskly about, 
whirling round some tufts of hair which grow on 
their mouths, and so driving microscopic animals and 
plants down their throats. Curiously enough they 

Fig. 90. 

Life of a Gnat. 

g, Grub breathing air through the tube /; /, pupa breathing air 
through two tubes t in the back ; b, floating boat formed of the pupa 
skin ; gn t gnat rising out of it ; above the perfect gnat is on the wing. 
These figures are all magnified to give clearness. 

all swim head downwards and tail upwards (g, Fig. 
90), and the secret of this is that they are air-breath- 
ing animals and have a small tube at the end of their 
tail, which they thrust above water to take in air. 
This goes on for about a fortnight, when, after they 


have changed their skins three times, they are ready 
to remodel their bodies. Then on casting their 
skin for the fourth time they come out shorter and 
bent and swathed up, but still able to swim about 
though not to eat. Meanwhile a most curious change 
has taken place. The tail tube has gone, and two 
little tubes (p t, Fig. 90) have grown on the top of the 
back, and through them the tiny pupa now draws in its 
breath as it wanders along. At last the time comes 
for the gnat to come forth, and the pupa stretches 
itself out near the top of the water, with its shoulders 
a little raised out of it. Then the skin begins to split, 
and the true head of the gnat appears and gradually 
rises, drawing up the body out of its case. This is a 
moment of extreme danger, for if the boat-like skin 
were to tip over it would carry the gnat with it, 
and in this way hundreds are drowned but if the 
gnat can draw out its legs in safety the danger is 
over. Leaning down to the water he rests his tiny 
feet upon it, unfolds and dries his beautiful scale- 
covered wings, and flies away in safety. 

With the gnat we must take our leave of the two- 
winged flies, although if we could study their whole 
history we should find them so intelligent that we 
should not be surprised at Mr. Lowne's statement 
that, although a fly is not one-fourth the size of a 
beetle, its brain is thirty times larger. In fact it is 
among these creatures which undergo metamorphosis 
that we begin to reach a point of intelligence which, 
of its kind, is quite as remarkable as that of the back- 
boned animals. But it is not among the butterflies, 
beetles, or even the two-winged flies, that the highest 
instincts are found. There exists an immense order 


called the Hymenoptera, or membrane-winged insects 
(hymen, membrane ; pteron, wing), including the gall- 
flies, saw-flies, ichneumons, burrowers, bees, wasps, and 
ants, in which instinct and intelligence exists to such 
a great degree that all naturalists are lost in wonder 
at the ingenuity of the wasp or the bee, and the 
almost incredible sagacity of the ant. 

And here comes a curious fact which we find 
equally among the insects and the back-boned animals. 
As Life endows her children with more intelligence, 
with quicker brains governing active bodies, we find 
them becoming more and more dependent upon 
others in their infancy and youth. Just as the large 
and man-like orang-outang remains as helpless as a 
human baby for the first few months of its life, while 
the lower and less intelligent monkeys have, long 
before that age, begun to fight their own battles ;""" so 
while the grubs of the frivolous butterfly, the thought- 
less gnat, and even the more intelligent saw-fly, are 
active and can take care of themselves from the time 
they come out of the egg, the cell-building bee and 
wasp on the contrary, and the thoughtful contriving 
ant, have a real babyhood, during which others watch 
and tend them, and when they must perish, just as 
a child would, -if it were not for the care and atten- 
tion of their grown-up friends. And this helplessness 
of infancy increases with the intelligence of the 
grown-up creature, as we shall see on reading the 
next chapter. For no one will deny that the ant 
stands first in mental capacity among insects, and its 

* For an amusing account of the difference between an orang-outang 
baby and a young harelip monkey of about the same age, see Wallace's 
Malay Archipelago, p. 45. 


children are more helpless even than those of bees. 
A young bee eats its own food placed for it in its 
cell, but the ant can take nothing but what is actually 
put into its mouth. 

It is most tempting to try and trace out this 
gradual progress to increased intelligence in age and 
helplessness in youth among the membrane-winged 
insects. Thus we should begin with the caterpillars 
of the saw-flies, placed within their proper plant by 
the saw-like instrument of their mother, and creeping 
over it in their youth ; then pass on to the grubs of 
the gall-flies which lie helplessly within the gall-nuts 
eating the food which their mother has prepared for 
them by leaving an irritating liquid which causes a 
lump to grow up around them on the plant. Next 
would come the grubs of the cunning Ichnuemon fly 
which, though feeding on honey herself, pierces the 
skin of the caterpillar or the beetle, and leaves her 
eggs in their flesh, where the young ones live as 
parasites during their sluggish infancy. 

From these we should go on to the still more 
wonderful burrowing insects, such as the Cerceris, the 
Sphex, and the Sand-wasp, which, after laying their 
eggs in a hole, pierce beetles, grasshoppers, or cater- 
pillars with their sting, not killing them, but paralysing 
them, and then storing them up with their eggs as 
fresh healthy living food for the young when they are 
hatched, two or three weeks later. Then we should 
come to the true wasps, with their beautifully-con- 
structed paper nests, built of wood fibre moulded into 
paste, and their helpless infants each in its cell tended 
with the utmost care ; and we should learn almost 
to have an affection for these industrious creatures, 


which in some ways show even greater intelligence 
than the bees. Then these last would claim our 
attention, with their frugal habits, their industry in 
storing up honey, their wonderful cities, in which 
each citizen has his duty, and their love for their 
queen. And, lastly, we arrive at the ants, and to 
these we must devote the next chapter, since to 
speak of the others would need a whole book, and 
the bees we have dealt with elsewhere."" In the ants 
we shall find that life has worked out her masterpiece 
among insects, and in them we can best learn to 
understand how far we have travelled, since we started 
with the Amceba, passing gradually from mere living, 
feeding, and dying atoms of life, to active, intelligent 
beings, whose life depends quite as much, and even 
more, upon the inward work of the brain than upon 
the outer weapons of the body. 

* Fairyland of Science. 




"So when the emmets, an industrious train, 
Embodied, rob some golden heap of grain, 
Studious, ere stormy winter frowns, to lay 
Safe in their darksome cells the treasured prey, 
In one long track the dusky legions lead 
Their prize in triumph through the verdant mead, 
Here, bending with the load, a panting throng, 
With force conjoined, heave some huge grain along, 
Some lash the stragglers to the task assigned, 
Some to their ranks the bands that lag behind ; 
They crowd the peopled path in thick array, 
Glow at the work, and darken all the way." 


- . 

DARE engage," said the King of 
Brobdingnag, as he took Gulliver 
on the palm of his right hand and 
stroked him gently, while his learned 
men examined this strange pigmy 
through their magnifying glasses, 
" I dare engage that these diminu- 
tive creatures have their titles and 
distinctions of honour ; they con- 
trive little nests and burrows which 
they call houses and cities ; they 
make a figure and dress in equi- 
page ; they love, they fight, they 
dispute, they cheat, they betray." 

* Most of the facts in this chapter which are not to be found in 
the standard works of Huber and Gould, have been taken from the 
works of Forel, McCook, Belt, and Moggridge, and from the scientific 
papers published by Sir J. Lubbock. 


Now Gulliver was a man made in the same 
fashion as the Brobdingnagian king, only in smaller 
proportions, and therefore it was not so wonderful 
that the king should suppose him to be living a life 
like his own. But the little ant, which we may take 
in like manner on our hand, is fashioned quite differ- 
ently from ourselves, and is only an insect ; and yet, 
strange to say, almost all the things asserted of Gul- 
liver, and many more which seem almost human, 
may be said with truth about these tiny creatures. 

For ants make nests and burrows which are real 
houses and cities, and even clear roadways to and 
from their settlements. If they do not dress in 
equipage, they perform their toilet with the greatest 
care, as well as that of their friends and of the help- 
less infants of their city. They can dispute and 
hold communication with their fellows ; they fight, 
both singly and in well -disciplined armies ; they 
betray in some cases their fellow -ants, and carry 
them into slavery ; they keep domestic animals, 
having beetles and other insects living in their nests, 
as we have dogs and cats in our houses, and some 
of them provide food for their community by keeping 
herds of Aphides as we keep cows. Moreover, they 
form very large societies, such as can only succeed 
by all the members working together in harmony. 
In one ants' nest, made up of several separate homes, 
there maybe from 50,000 to 200,000 ants, and though 
each ant is free to build, or hunt, or milk, or fight, 
or go where she will, it seems to create no confusion. 
In this way they are much more independent than 
bees and wasps, whose combs are all built mechani- 
cally, one exactly like the other ; whereas any ant 


may start a gallery or chamber in a new direction, 
and others soon joining her will add fresh nurseries 
and homes to the nest according to their own ideas. 
Yet there is order in this vast multitude. Some 
invisible bond makes each and all labour for the 
good of the whole, and this is the more curious as 

F, Formica rufa. Hill Ant. Worker, s, Spur ; m, male ; 
/", female ; g, grub ; c, cocoon ; /, naked pupa. 

M, Myrniica molesta. The little reddish-yellow Ant, infesting our 
houses, having two knobs and a sting. 

The true size of these Ants is indicated by the lines. 

there is no special leader or governor among them. 
In all complicated work which has to be done the 
feeding of the queen-mother, the nursing, carrying, 


and feeding of the young, the building of new 
chambers, the tending of their flocks and herds, the 
defence of the nest, or the formation of new colonies 
all labour amicably together, without any apparent 
government, and yet without confusion or disorder. 

Now before we can understand how it is that 
these little insects have advanced so far beyond 
others of their class, we must first inquire what are 
the chief weapons with which life has provided them, 
and to what use they are put. Although ants are 
such common insects that there is scarcely a garden 
without them, and even many of our houses are 
overrun by them, yet probably very few people have 
ever examined one carefully, or tried to understand 
its very peculiar shape ; and if you can catch one 
wandering about the garden or feeding in the store- 
cupboard, and put it under a magnifying glass, you 
will be astonished to find how much there is to learn 
about it 

First notice the ringed abdomen common to all 
insects, and the very fine stalk by which it is joined 
to the rest of the body, allowing it to bend easily in 
all directions. If you have taken the garden-ant,* 
this stalk will be made of one knob or ring, as it is 
also in the hill-ant (F, Fig. 91), while, if you have 
the tiny reddish-yellow house-ant t (M), there will be 
two knobs ; and by this you may know at once that 
the house-ant has a sting, while the garden one has 
not ; for in England all the ants with one knob, ex- 
cept one single genus,| have no sting. Next notice 
the three-ringed thorax bearing the six legs. On 
each side of this are three breathing holes, which, 

* Lasins nigcr. t Myrmica moksta. J Ponera. 


Fig. 92. 

however, you cannot see without a very strong lens. 
But even with the naked eye you may discover the 
tiny spur (s, F, Fig. 91), which sticks out from the 
third joint of each leg, and a magnifying glass will 
show that this spur on the two front legs is larger than 
on the others, and bears on its edge more than fifty- 
five elastic teeth (c, Fig. 9 2), while another set of similar 
teeth on the leg itself (Ic) face it, and can be rubbed 
up against it. These are the toilet-brush and comb 
of the ant ; and when- 
ever she has been 
doing any dirty work, 
she will pause, and 
use them to brush off 
the dust or mud 
which has clung to 
the delicate hairs and 
bristles of her body. 
Then she will after- 
wards pass the brush 
and comb through 
her mandibles, and so Head _ eet eyes . 

clean them afresh for mandibles ; /;', jaws ; t, tongue. 
wor ] c Foots, spur; c, comb of spur; / c, 


It is, however, the 

head of the ant which is above all remarkable. 
You will be struck at once with its curious 
triangular shape, its large size, and its flatness, while 
the small eyes (e, Fig. 92), and the antennae (a), 
bent like the elbow of an arm, are very different 
from what we have seen in other insects. It seems 
strange at first that active intelligent creatures like 
ants should have such small eyes as many of them 

Ant's Head and Foot. 


have, and still more so that the eyes of the workers 
should be smaller than those of the males and females 
which do no work. But when we remember the 
blind Termites (p. 225), and how they build intricate 
homes without any eyes at all, we are prepared to 
find that it is the antennae which are chiefly used by 
ants to guide them in their work. 

What the true history of these antennae is, and 
how the ants communicate by means of them, we 
shall probably never know ; for though it is almost 
certain that they use them for feeling and smelling, 
and perhaps even for hearing, yet there seems to be 
some other sense in them by which one ant can tell 
another of danger, or food, or work to be done. 

For instance, Sir J. Lubbock, who is unwearying 
in making careful and accurate observations on the 
habits of ants, has lately tried the experiment of 
pinning a fly or a spider to the ground, so that the 
ant which found it could not drag it away. On 
nearly all occasions the ant returning to the nest 
brought friends to help her ; seven, twelve, and in 
one case fifteen came ; and as she did not carry any- 
thing with her to show that she had found a prize, 
it is almost certain that she must have told them of 
it in some way. The ants which she brought often 
came slowly and reluctantly, wandering hither and 
thither so as to be half-an-hour in reaching the dead 
insect, and once the first ant growing impatient 
started off again to the nest and brought a second 
body of recruits, who " after most persevering efforts 
carried off the spider piecemeal." These ants, then, 
had some means of telling the other ants that they 
wanted help, and how much they wanted ; and numer- 


ous observations show that it is by touching their an- 
tennae that they make these communications. Now, 
though at first this may appear almost incredible, yet, 
if we think for a moment, we shall acknowledge that 
it would seem still more strange to a being who 
knew nothing about speech, to see two men stand 
at a distance from each other, and only move their 
mouths, and then go and do something which showed 
that one knew what the other wanted, so that it may 
after all be only our ignorance of ant-language which 
puzzles us. 

Next to the antennas, the most useful implements 
of an ant are her mandibles (in ni), which do the 
greater part of the work, to which the antennae guide 
them. Looking in the face of an ant, you see these 
two outer jaws, with their toothed edges resting against 
each other ; but if you make her angry, she will open 
them wide to seize you with all her tiny might 

Does she want to excavate a gallery ? Then she 
will tear out the earth with these toothed spades, and 
carry it in pellets above ground. Is she cleaning a 
cocoon ? She will then use her mandibles, tenderly 
and neatly, to pick out morsels of dirt, and afterwards 
will lift the tiny ball with them, and carry it without 
injury up or down the nest. Or she may perhaps be 
cutting a blade of grass to lay as a rafter in the roof 
of a chamber ; again she saws off the leaf with her 
mandibles, while she holds it with her front legs. Or, 
lastly, if she is fighting to the death in a pitched 
battle, she will fix these strong pincers so firmly in 
the throat of her enemy, that even if she is killed, 
her head will often remain for days hanging on to 
the conqueror's body. 


There is, however, one thing she does not do with 
her mandibles ; she does not chew with them, but 
uses them to tear and press the food so as to obtain 
the juices and ojls in it. It is true many ants feed 
upon other insects, and even on grains, but in the 
first case they pierce the skin with the mandibles, 
and then lap up the liquid within, and the seeds they 
tear to fragments, and lick or rasp off the starch with 
their tiny tongue (/, Fig. 92), helped by the inner jaws 


Such, then, is roughly the structure of the working 
ant, which is an imperfect female ; and when we ask 
how it is that so small a creature, with a body not 
one-tenth part as strong as many of the beetles, and 
without the power of flying, has made its way so well 
in the world, we learn that within that curious- 
shaped head is collected a larger and more complex 
mass of nerve-matter than in other insects, so that in 
the two large hemispheres of an ant's brain, life has 
prepared a powerful machine for guiding the little 
creature on its road. In all social insects, such as 
the bees and wasps, the nerve-masses in the brain 
are larger than in those insects which do their work 
alone, and one great secret of the success of ants 
is that they form the most perfect societies in the 
whole animal world. 

And now, how shall we study ant-life ? For 
there are as many different races of ants, each with 
its special habits and customs, as there are races 
of men, and one description will by no means do 
for them all. The best way will be to speak first 
of some one race well known to all of us, and then 
to say something of others. It would seem most 


natural to take the little garden -ant, which is the 
one we most often come across. But it lives a 
great part of its time underground, and though it 
comes to the surface to sun itself and wander about, 
it does not do much work above ground, except 
when it is visiting its cows (see p. 287). It will be 
better therefore to take another common ant, the 
hill -ant or horse -ant,'"" as it is often called, which 
lives a more out-door life. 

You can scarcely walk through any English wood 
without coming across lines of these reddish-looking 
ants, which are often of very different sizes, and have, 
for ants, rather large eyes. Their nests are easily 
found, forming large leafy hillocks at the foot of oak 
trees, or sometimes in the open ground. Even in 
England they are often two feet high, and on the 
Continent they are much larger. At an early hour 
in the morning all will be still and quiet on these 
hillocks, for the ants close their doors at night with 
leaves, or bits of stick and straw : but as soon as 
the sun rises and flings its beams across the leafy 
wood, warming the air, you may see a few ants 
creep out of cracks in the dome ; and by and by, 
if the day be fine, many large openings will be made, 
and soon all is alive and active. Some ants are 
dragging in bits of wood, and straw, and leaves, to 
add to the dome ; others are carrying in bits of insects, 
young grasshoppers, or worms, or caterpillars, whose 
juices they will feed upon in the nest ; others creep 
into the blossoms of plants to steal their honey ; while 
others, again, seek out the stems covered with aphides 
or plant-lice, and beg of them their sweet juice. 

* Formica rufa. 


It will be remembered (see p. 203) that the 
aphides plunge their trunks into plants, and suck all 
day long, filling their bodies with juice. Now, when 
the ant comes running up the stem in search of 
food, she comes behind the aphis and strokes it 
gently with her antennae, and the little creature 
gives out from the end of its body (or sometimes from 
the little horns), a drop of sweet liquid which the 
ant licks up, and it is probable that this is pleasant 
to the aphis, which in any case always gives out 
juice from time to time. The ant, on her side, pro- 
tects these plant-lice, keeping off the lady-birds or 
other insects, which might attack them, and even 
taking care that, for a certain distance round her 
own nest no ant from a strange community shall 
poach upon her grounds. 

And now, as these well-fed ants, with their crops 
filled with two or three drops of aphis juice, hurry 
home again they meet with others, those that have 
been collecting leaves, or those which have been 
sweeping out the galleries of the nest, and have had 
no time to get food. These hungry ants run up to the 
full-fed ones, and stroke them with their antennas, 
asking for food, and then lifting up their mouth, they 
receive the juice which the others squeeze out of 
their crop ; for one of the principal rules in ant-cities 
is for every member to help another for the general 

Busy, however, as every one seems to be outside 
the nest, they are still busier within. If you could cut 
one of these ant-hills in half downwards, you would 
find that the nest extends often a foot or more into 
the earth, and everywhere it is a maze of narrow 



galleries leading into rooms with vaulted ceilings 
(see Fig. 93). In the top part of the nest, made 
chiefly of sticks and leaves, together with dried seeds 
and often little stones and shells, these galleries 
appear very confused, though with a little care they 
may be traced by the tiny beams of wood, and the 
blades of grass and leaves forming the rafters of the 

Fig. 93- 

Section of an Ants' Nest. Adapted from Figuier. . 
, Gallery; f, cocoons in a vaulted chamber; /, larvae or young 

ceilings ; but, down below, where the ground is firm 
though still mixed with other material, the roads are 
clearer and the chambers larger. 

Here active busy work is going on. Deep down, 
almost at the bottom of the nest, the queen-ant is 
wandering about with her train of followers, dropping 
tiny eggs as she goes, which the workers pick up 
and arrange in little heaps in the chambers. In 


other apartments are packets of eggs, many days 
old, and these are being licked all over and carried, 
several at a time, by the workers up into higher cham- 
bers, where the air is warmed by the morning sun. 
Again, in other chambers are heaps of little white, 
legless, blind grubs, with twelve soft rings to their 
bodies (^Fig. pi;/, Fig. 9 3), and narrow mouths with 
soft mouth-pieces ending in a pointed lip. These 
little helpless creatures can do no more than just 
turn their heads to receive the drops of food which 
the nurses squeeze out of their crops down the infant 
throats. They are spotlessly clean, for they too 
are licked all over daily, and every speck of dirt is 
picked off by the mandibles of the worker ants, 
which not only feed and clean them, but carry them 
as they did the eggs, up for warmth in the day, and 
down at night to escape the chilly air. Sir John 
Lubbock has observed that these grubs are sometimes 
even sorted and arranged in groups, according to 
their size and age ; for they live and grow in this 
state for various periods according to the time of year, 
and sometimes remain as grubs for many months. 

In another chamber, quite a different process is 
going on, for here the grubs have arrived at the 
time when they are ready to remodel their bodies ; 
and each little grub, moving his head to and fro, is 
laying down silken threads within which he spins 
his soft cocoon. Still, here also the workers are 
busy, for as soon as each cocoon is finished, they 
loosen the outer threads clinging to the earth, and 
smooth and clean the cocoon till it is a pure oval 
ball, which they can carry up and down in the nest, 
though they can no longer feed the little creature 


within. It is these cocoons (c, Fig. 93) which people 
mistake for eggs, when they see the ants hurrying 
away with them when their nest is disturbed ; for 
the nurses guard their sleeping children with zealous 
care, and many a worker-ant has died sooner than 
leave a grub or a cocoon in the hands of an enemy. 

Lastly, in other chambers the final act of the baby 
ant's history is being carried on ; for after clean- 
ing and carrying and watching over the cocoons till 
the perfect ant is ready to come forth, the workers 
have still to help it out of its silken prison. This 
they do by tearing the cocoon gently with their 
mandibles, two or three of them at a time. Then 
carefully drawing the ant out of the hole, and licking 
it all over to clear it of its pupa skin, they feed it 
and leave it to go to its work, which for some little 
time will be all within the nest, till its coat has be- 
come hard and firm, and its limbs strong.'* When 
once it is grown up it may live through many seasons ; 
for Sir J. Lubbock tells me that he has ants which 
have lived in his room since 1874, and they must 
therefore be now at least six, and probably seven 
years old. 

All this different work of nursing and feeding 
may be going on at one time in a nest ; some- 
times in different chambers, sometimes pell-mell, 
eggs, grubs, cocoons, and young ants all in the 
same room. But this is not all which the workers 
have to do, for if it be summer time a number of 

* Among some ants the grubs do not spin cocoons, but remain 
naked pupae like the chrysalis of the butterfly (see /, Fig. 91, p. 271), 
and even among these hill-ants this will sometimes happen late in the 
year. When the pupa is naked the young ant can get out by itself 
without help. 


winged ants will be wandering about which have 
also to be cared for. These are the male ants, and 
the young females which have not yet begun to lay 
eggs. They have come out of cocoons rather different 
in size and shape from those of the wingless worker 
ants, and we do not yet know what decides this 
difference. There is no jealousy in an ants' nest 
(as there is in a beehive) between the queen-mother 
and the young princesses ; indeed in some nests several 
queen mothers live amicably together. But still 
the workers have to feed and watch all these winged 
ants, and though the young princesses are allowed 
to go outside on the dome of the nest and sun them- 
selves, the workers never leave them, and towards 
evening may be seen taking hold of them by the 
mandibles and dragging them gently home to bed. 

By and by, later in the year, all these winged ants 
will come out of the nest in a swarm and rise and 
fall in the air like the May-flies over the pond. Then 
the males will never return to the nest, but will 
wander about and soon die, or be devoured in num- 
bers by birds or other insects. The same thing 
will happen to many of the princesses, but some will 
be seized by the workers and dragged back to the 
nest, where their wings are pulled off and they settle 
down into queens, and lay eggs. Others which have 
fallen at a distance will pull off their own wings, 
which are fastened very lightly to their shoulders, 
and will begin to dig a hole and lay eggs in the 
earth. Whether these solitary queens are able to 
found a new nest, or whether it is only when two or 
three workers join them that they live and flourish, 
is not yet certain, but Sir John Lubbock has shown 


that in one case at any rate a queen which he kept 
artificially (Myrmica ruginodis) did bring up some 
young workers from her eggs.* 

There is another way, however, in which new 
nests begin, and this is when an old nest is over full, 
or when the leaves and sticks begin to decay, and 
the carcasses of insects and of dead ants which have 
been thrown out of the nest make the home un- 
healthy. In either of these cases some worker sets 
off and finds a spot for a new nest ; this found she 
comes back, and seizing another ant in her mandibles 
carries her off to the chosen place. These two again 
return, each carrying another, and so a little band of 
workers is collected. 

Then they set to work. One ant begins to dig a 
hole with her front legs, throwing out the dirt behind 
much as a dog does ; another and another follow in 
her train, and the work goes on merrily, while others 
are still going to and fro to the old nest and carry- 
ing in new recruits. As soon as the tunnel becomes 
too deep for the earth to be kicked out, the exca- 
vators bite out pieces with their mandibles and carry 
them in little pellets outside the hole to form the 
upper part of the nest. Meanwhile others are fetch- 
ing sticks and leaves to prop up the galleries and 
roof the chambers ; and so the dome rises above, as 
the firmer part of the nest is being scooped out below. 

And now the migration goes on apace ; no ant 
seems to leave the old nest willingly, but as soon as 
she is carried to the new one the general enthusiasm 
seizes upon her, and she sets to work to dig and 
build, or runs back to carry another as eagerly as 

* " Habits of Ants," Science Lectures, p. 92. 


any of those that have been long at work. In this 
way a complete train of ants going and coming are 
to be seen, those which are empty-mouthed going 
back to the old nest, the others each with her burden 
going to the new one. M. Forel once counted from 
forty to fifty in a minute passing each way, so that 
36,000 new-comers would be carried in one day. 

At first it is only workers that are brought, but 
when chambers are prepared, then the eggs, larvae, 
and cocoons, princesses, males, and queens, are all 
carried to the new home, and the migration is com- 

The next step, if the community be large, is to 
clear roads to the nearest plants where aphides may 
be found, and to do this the workers carry away 
dead leaves and refuse matter, and saw off the living 
blades of grass, and soon lay bare a narrow path 
along which they travel in search of food. Now, 
while all this is going on, it will often appear as it 
any one ant was wasting a great deal of time running 
hither and thither in an aimless kind of way. But 
it must be remembered that ants see but a very short 
distance, and that it is by means of their antennae, 
and probably chiefly by scent, that they find their 
way. Moreover, the blades of grass among which 
they are moving are to them like tall trees, so that 
we must look upon them as travellers in pathless 
woods following a track, and not expect them to go 
direct to their point. Many too will seem to stand 
idle, while others look as if they were merely playing 
together. This is because they not only rest from 
time to time, but are very particular to clean their 
bodies carefully from the earth which clings to them, 


and when they appear to be playing together, one ant 
is often performing this kind office for another. Still, 
in spite of wandering and resting and cleaning them- 
selves, it is marvellous what an amount of work 
these little creatures do, so that in a short time their 
new domain is adapted for their life. 

It may happen, however, that all does not go 
so smoothly ; the new colony may chance to en- 
croach upon the territory of some other ants' nest, 
and then comes dire disaster ; for no two nations can 
fight more relentlessly for a province or a frontier 
than these little ants do for their plots of ground. 
No sooner does one community find that another 
is taking possession of any part of its domain, or 
has given offence in some way unintelligible to us, 
than the workers pour out by thousands, marching 
close together in battle array, eager for the attack. 
Meanwhile those belonging to the other side advance 
to defend themselves, and when the two armies meet 
they fall upon each other, two by two, taking hold 
with their mandibles, and raising themselves up on 
their hind legs, so that they can turn the abdomen 
under the body. This is in order that they may 
squirt out from the tail that strong acid called formic 
add, which acts as a poison, so that often the com- 
batants fall dead locked in each other's arms. When- 
ever these ants are excited the scent of formic acid 
is very strong, so that you may smell it in passing 
the nest. 

If one ant succeeds in disabling the other, remain- 
ing unhurt herself, she tries to drag her victim off to 
the nest, there to be killed and devoured. Now, 
although all these ants are exactly alike, each army 


knows its own followers, and it is very rarely indeed 
that a friend is attacked. If this does happen, the 
onslaught is almost instantly changed to a caress, and 
the two friends turn against a common enemy. At 
night each army returns home, but at daybreak the 
battle begins again, and may rage for many days till 
either the inhabitants of one nest are destroyed or 
routed, or bad weather puts an end to the fighting. 
And when the war is over, the dead and mangled 
are not left on the field, for these terrible cannibals 
carry them off to their nests to suck the juices from 
their bodies. 

Such are the battles of the hill -ants, but the 
mode of attack is very various among the different 
races. The red ant (see p. 277), for example, is 
much more wily and given to stratagem, and does 
not fight in such large masses. Again, there are 
tiny ants which, when attacked by larger ones, hang 
on the legs, and jump upon their backs, biting them 
and tearing them to pieces, while the larger ant tries 
to strangle them in her mandibles. One particular 
slave-making ant * has especially pointed mandibles, 
and she drives them right into the brain of her 
enemy, throwing her into convulsions and paralysing 
her. On the other hand, those ants which have 
stings make use of them in fighting rather than of 
their mandibles, while, as we have seen, the hill-ant 
is remarkable for the force with which she can squirt 
out formic acid over her adversary. 

But, in whatever way they are carried on, these 
ant-battles are fierce and bitter, for ants have very 
few enemies but those of their own kind, so that 

* Polyergus rnfescens. 


they swarm everywhere, and have great struggles for 
their homes, and their flocks of aphides. Indeed, 
among ants, as among uncivilised human races, each 
member is faithful to his tribe and bitterly hostile to 
any stranger. Sir J. Lubbock has found that after 
a separation of fifteen months an ant belonging to 
the nest was recognised and welcomed, while a 
stranger was hustled and turned away ; and what 
is still more curious, when ant -eggs were taken to 
another nest, and the young ones hatched there and 
brought up by strange nurses, yet their own people 
recognised and received them when they were re- 
turned to their home. 

The little black ant of our gardens has learnt a 
cunning way of keeping out of the way of quarrels by 
hiding her honey-cows. Instead of going out to seek 
them every day, she carries them home and keeps 
them close to her nest, where she sometimes surrounds 
the stem on which they live with a tube of earth, or 
visits them by covered galleries, or even puts them on 
the roots of plants, underground in her own home. 
You may discover this little ant climbing the plants, 
and tempting the aphides to give out their sweet 
drops ; and by carefully digging up the plants near 
her nest, you may find the plant-lice clinging to the 
roots, which run through her galleries and her cham- 
bers. Only, it may be well to put them back again 
to their industrious keepers, and you will probably be 
rewarded by seeing the ants take them up, and carry 
them down for safety to a lower part of the nest. 
The small yellow meadow-ant* keeps her aphides 
entirely on the roots of plants, fetching and placing 

* Lasiiis flavits. 


them near to her nest, and tending them with the 
greatest care, even watching over their little black 
eggs, so as to secure fresh broods. In this way she 
rarely needs to come above ground, and has no 
regular openings to her nest. 

Now, when these ants are attacked, they do not 
come out of their nest to fight ; on the contrary, 
they defend it like a fortress, hiding themselves in 
the lower galleries, barring the way with pellets of 
earth, and disputing every inch with the enemy. 
Indeed, if the struggle becomes very hopeless, they 
will escape with their cocoons and grubs along their 
labyrinth of passages, and closing up the road, will 
raise a new ant-hill at some distance from the first. 
These ants work at their nests by night, for as they 
build entirely with earth, they need the damp and dew 
to moisten the pellets, as they plaster their walls. 

The ants we have mentioned, the hill-ant and the 
meadow-ant, have workers of very different sizes, and 
there is very little doubt that the larger workers do 
most of the fighting ; indeed in South Europe and 
America there are in some species special large- 
headed workers, which are the soldiers of the commu- 
nity. But if you will search carefully in the banks 
of the fir woods, or in the stumps of the decayed trees 
of Hampshire, Surrey, or Sussex, you may chance to 
come across a much more curious sight than mere 
difference of size ; for you will find large red ants * 
and smaller black ones, t living in one nest, and 
working happily together. 

Yet these black ants were not born among the 
red ones ; their eggs were laid by their own black 

* Formica sanguined. t Formica fusca. 


mother in the nest at home ; and they were stolen 
the summer before, some time between the months 
of June and August, when they were lying wrapped 
up in their cocoons, by an army of red ants which 
attacked the nest in which they lay. 

The first alarm was probably given by the appear- 
ance of a few scouts wandering round the nest, and 
as soon as the black ants saw them, there was terrible 
consternation. Some swarmed out to face the enemy, 
others rushed to seize the eggs, grubs, and cocoons, 
to carry them to the other side of the nest for 
safety, where the princesses followed them, while 
others blocked up the doors to defend the fortress. 
Meanwhile, the red army kept growing in numbers, 
more and more ants crowding round the poor black- 
ant city, till a semicircle of hundreds of warriors 
was formed, all standing with their antennae thrown 
back, and their mandibles wide open. Then the 
attack began ; the black ants fought bravely, clinging 
to the legs of their cruel foes, biting them, and 
striving to drive them off, and to bear their little 
ones away in safety. In vain ; overcome by the 
strength and number of their assailants, they had 
to give way, and soon the conquerors were swarming 
over the dead bodies of the defenders, and carrying 
off their cocoons. 

From this moment, the red ants did not attempt 
to fight, except with those of the black ones 
which tried to escape with their young. They 
hurried past all the others, pushing them aside, and 
occupied themselves entirely in making their way 
into the galleries, out of which each red ant came 
with her stolen treasure in her mouth, and set off 


with it at once to her own nest. In this way the 
whole red army travelled to and fro, carrying away 
cocoon after cocoon, and delivering them over to the 
care of other black ants in the nest at home, which 
had been captured in the same way the year before, 
and had now settled down as nurses of the establish- 
ment. These ants took the cocoons, and watched 
and tended them, and by and by, when they were 
opened, the black children took to the red-ant nest 
as their home, and worked with the rest Except 
that they are forcibly seized in their infancy, these 
black ants can scarcely be called slaves, for master 
and servant live together like equals, only that the 
black ants generally remain more indoors, while the 
red ones go out to seek food. 

But how have these red ants, which are in many 
ways some of the cleverest of their kind, learnt to 
steal young black ones, to help them in their 
work ? Mr. Darwin suggests the answer. It is a 
common practice with ants to carry the cocoons 
of their enemies into their nests to eat them, and 
they tear open the cocoon to feed on the insect 
within. Now, nothing is more likely than that 
some of the black -ant cocoons, thus carried in, 
should be neglected, till the ants within them were 
perfect, and then, when they came out active and 
vigorous, they would be well received, as ants born 
in the nest generally are, and would mix with the 
red ones, and prove very useful. Is it too much 
to imagine, that thus by degrees the intelligent red 
ants should come to understand that it was better to 
have the help of the black ants than to eat them, 
and should learn to fetch them in numbers to help 


them in their work ? One thing is certain, that they 
know their own interest now, for if by chance a 
female winged ant comes out of the stolen cocoons, 
she is killed at once by her red masters, who know 
that if she lived and laid eggs, these would be tended 
by the slaves, and the nest would soon become a 
black-ant city. 

But now see how true it is, even among insects, 
that those who always look to others to save them 
trouble, become weak, useless, and contemptible, for 
though the slave -making ants which we have in 
England * work with their slaves, there are others 
living abroad,t which have become so dependent 
upon their black servants, that they can neither build 
their nests nor tend their young, nor even feed them- 
sjlves. It is a mockery to call the neuters of these 
ants " workers," for they can do no work any more 
than the males and females, but they are " soldiers," 
for the one thing they can do is to go in great 
hordes and fight the black ants, and steal their 
cocoons. Here their pointed mandibles (which have 
lost their toothed edge, and are of no use for other 
work) come into play as deadly weapons in crushing 
the brains of their enemies (see p. 286)", and their 
warlike expeditions are bold and successful. For 
the rest they are quite helpless ; it is the negro ants 
which fetch provisions, feed the grubs, take care 
of the princesses, build the rooms and galleries, and 
even feed their lazy masters. Huber once took 
thirty of these red ants with their grubs and cocoons, 
and put them in a box with a supply of honey, but 
though the food lay close to them, they made no 

* Formica sanguined. t Polyergiis rufescens. 


attempt to eat, and many died. At last, taking pity 
on them, he put one little negro ant into the box, 
and at once she set to work, made a chamber in the 
earth, fed the grubs, attended to the cocoons, and 
even saved the lives of those few full-grown red 
ants which remained. Sir J. Lubbock has lately 
repeated this experiment, keeping one of these red 
ants alive for months by putting in a slave for two 
or three hours a day to clean and feed it. 

Even when it is necessary to migrate to a new 
nest, these red ants will not trouble themselves to 
walk there, but lie on their backs, and are carried by 
the faithful blacks, who never seem to lose their 
temper, or to mind the work which falls upon them. 
The only time that we ever hear of the blacks being 
angry, was once when Huber saw the red ants return 
from a slave-making expedition without any cocoons. 
This was too much, that the only one thing they ever 
did for the community should be neglected ! The 
exasperated slaves hustled them and dragged them 
out of the nest again, but after a few moments re- 
lented and allowed them to come home. 

And now from ants degraded by indolence, let 
us turn to those which have become so industrious 
as even to lay up stores for the future. Our English 
ants being in a cold climate sleep through the winter 
deep down in their lower chambers, and in this way 
have no need of food ; though the yellow meadow ants 
show great forethought, according to Sir J. Lubbock, 
by carrying aphides' eggs down into their nest early 
in October, and tending them with the utmost care, so 
as to secure a crop of young ones, which they bring 


out the next March, and place on the daisy stalks, 
which are their natural home. In warm countries, 
however, such as the shores of the Mediterranean, and 
the Southern States of North America, there is no 
chilling influence to make the ants hibernate, while 
at the same time for some part of the year they 
cannot find their accustomed food in the fields and 
meadows. And so in these warm countries, it comes 
to pass that the ant " provideth her meat in the sum- 
mer, and gathereth her food in the harvest," although 
many writers have denied the truth of this, because 
they had only studied the ants of colder countries. 

It was among the lemon terraces of the warm 
sheltered valley of Mentone, that Mr. Traherne 
Moggridge, during the last years of an invalid life, 
set himself to watch these little harvesters,""" which all 
belong to the two-knobbed ants (see p. 271). There 
they were to be found in the early spring, as soon 
as any seeds were ripe, hard at work on the rough 
slope of the terrace, tearing off the seed-vessels of 
the Shepherd's Purse and the Chickweed, and plun- 
dering Pea-flowers, Honey-worts, and grasses of their 
seeds, and then carrying them in their mandibles to 
the nest. Sometimes a young and foolish ant 
brought in rubbish, and not a few were deceived by 
some small white beads strewn by Mr. Moggridge on 
the path. But these no sooner reached the nest than 
they were hustled out by their elders, to throw the 
useless burden away, so that in a very short time 
they all learnt to leave the beads alone. 

Meanwhile another set of workers within the 
ant-city were busy stripping off the husks of the seeds 

* Atta structor and Ada barbara. 


and casting them out of the nest, and as in many 
cases whole seeds are either thrown out by mistake 
or dropped on their way in, one of these ants' nests 
may be found by noticing the little crop of oats, 
chickweed, and other grasses, which spring up round 
the refuse-heap. 

By cutting a nest open or taking a good piece 
out of it with a trowel, the little granaries, in which 
these seeds are stored, may be laid bare. They are 
about the size of a gentleman's gold watch, and 
are connected by narrow galleries. It is a curious 
fact, that though these seeds grow easily when they 
are sown, yet in the granaries it is very rare to find 
one sprouting. This is probably owing to the care 
which the ants take to keep them dry, making the 
roof and sides of the granaries firm and hard, and 
bringing the seeds out on a warm day and spreading 
them round the nest, so that any moisture is drawn 
out of them. Mr. Moggridge even saw the ants, 
after a shower of rain had made the seed germinate, 
bite off the point of the little root which was begin- 
ning to show itself. 

In this way the ants store up seeds in the summer, 
having often a large series of galleries and granaries, 
so that from half a pint to a pint of seeds has been 
taken from one nest ; and in the winter, when food 
is scarce, the starch in these seeds supplies them with 

And now one vexed question still remains have 
these clever little insects yet learnt to sow seeds as 
well as to gather them ? This still remains to be 
proved ; but if we travel to Texas we find that one 
thing is certain namely, that they have learnt to 


clear the ground round their nests, even among the 
toughest grass, and to allow nothing to spring up on 
these cleared disks except the needle grass or ant- 
rice,"' which they store up in their granaries. 

We have already seen that the English hill-ant 
will clear a path ; but what labour it must be to clear, 
and keep clear, round spaces measuring from seven 

Fig. 94. 

Cleared disk of the agricultural ant, with a central mound and 
seven roads. M'Cook. 

to twelve feet across, on wild meadow ground covered 
with rank weeds two or three feet high, some of them 
having stems as thick as one's finger ! Yet this is 
done by the "agricultural or bearded ants "t of Texas, 
which swarm in such numbers and clear so many 
spaces that they actually injure the farms on which 

* Aristida stricta. 

f Myrmica barbata (Pogonomyrmex barbatus). H. C. M c Cook, 
Agricultural Ant of Texas. Philadelphia, 1879. 


they establish themselves. They keep the circular 
space round their nests perfectly clean, never allowing 
a weed to encroach upon it except where at the 
edges crops of needle grass grow, of which they 
harvest the seed. Underground their galleries and 
chambers often extend under the whole disk, and 
there can be little doubt that it is chiefly in order to 
get air and ventilation, about which they are very 
particular, that -they clear the weeds away. But 
their work does not end here, for they make from 
three to seven roads, according to the size of the 
nest, branching out into the forest of grasses, so that 
they can go far afield to collect seeds. These roads 
are often more than fifty feet long, and it sounds 
strangely like our own country places when we hear 
that they grow weedy in the winter when little used, 
and are cleared afresh in the spring. 

When we think, however, of the small size of the 
ants in comparison with the vegetation they have to 
destroy, the history becomes much more astonishing. 
Many of the larger and thicker grass stems which 
they saw through with their mandibles to clear their 
disk must be to them like the trunks of trees measur- 
ing six feet across, while the round spaces they keep 
clear are, in relation to their size, equal to a piece of 
country a quarter of a mile in diameter. 

These ants make their nests entirely underground, 
only sometimes having a small dome (see Fig. 94) 
with one or two openings in the top. Their granaries 
are very large, and yet they are not entirely vege- 
tarians, for Mr. M c Cook saw them laying in a com- 
plete store of male and female termites which fell 
round their nest after swarming. 


Central America can, however, boast of at least 
one purely vegetarian ant namely, the " leaf-cutting 
ant"* These active little creatures devastate whole 
forests by tearing the leaves with their mandibles 
and carrying off pieces about the size of a sixpence 
into their nest, and Mr. Beltf found that these 
leaves are probably used for manure, upon which 
a minute fungus grows inside the nest and forms 
the ant food. These ants are decidedly clever, 
for when they were changing their nests once, and 
had to get their cocoons down a slope, Mr. Belt saw 
one set of workers bring them to the top and roll 
them down, while another set picked them up at the 
bottom. Another ant, which is housed and fed in 
a most peculiar manner, inhabits the Bull's -horn 
thorn-tree. This ant lives in the hollow thorns of 
the tree, sipping the honey which exudes from a 
gland at the base of the leaves, and in return, as it 
stings terribly, it protects its friend the tree from the 
attacks of the leaf-cutting ant. 

The foraging or " army ants "| of Central America, 
on the other hand, subsist entirely on insects and 
other animal food, and travel in great hordes from 
place to place, clearing the country as they go, and 
living in hollow trees and fallen trunks on their road. 
Cockroaches, crickets, spiders, locusts, wood - lice, 
centipedes, and scorpions, all fall a prey to this huge 
moving army, often three or four yards wide, and 
the natives call it the " blessing of God," because 
the ants swarm into their houses, and by the time 
they leave every insect is cleared away. The army 
consists not only of dark workers and soldiers with 

* CEcodoma. t Naturalist in Nicaragua, 1874. J Eciton. 


enormous heads and powerful jaws, but nas also at 
intervals of about two or three yards light-coloured 
officers which touch the ants with their antennae, 
and seem to give the orders directing the march. 
So the column moves on, each ant probably guided 
chiefly by scent and the other senses of its antennae, 
for these ants are almost and sometimes entirely 
blind. Scouts are sent out on all sides to bring 
intelligence of booty, and the army swarms to the 
right or the left according to information given, 
following the scent of their comrades. 

And now we must take leave of these intelli- 
gent little beings, though we have not even glanced 
at many of their curious habits, such, for example, 
as the storing up of honey in the abdomen of ants 
hanging from the roof of the nest, as is practised by 
the Mexican honey ant But we have learnt enough 
to be convinced of their intelligence, and it only 
remains to inquire whether, amongst all their work, 
they have any feeling of sympathy for each other. 
The truth is, they seem to care for the members of 
their own nest, but more as parts of the community 
than as individuals. There are many cases in which 
ants have gone to help a comrade, but this is gener- 
ally (though not always) when she is still able to 
share in their work ; as, for example, when Mr. Belt 
tells us that the foraging ants never rested till they 
had released a comrade which he had covered over 
with a lump of clay. Sir J. Lubbock, it is true, 
gives one case of a poor ant born without antennae, 
which was roughly handled by some enemies, and 
was afterwards most carefully carried home by 
a friend. But these incidents seem rare, and upon 


the whole the great guiding principle in ant -life 
appears to be devotion to the community, much more 
than to each other. With them the mother has no 
interest in her children after they are born, and the 
workers take care of all alike, so that no special 
ties of affection are formed ; and, while we admire 
the wonderful mechanism of ant-life, we must not 
expect to find in it that love and personal devotion 
which is developed in quite another branch of Life's 

We have travelled far since we started with the 
shapeless and sluggish Amceba, and have surely 
justified the statement with which we began, that by 
giving the prize of success to those who best fight 
the battle of existence, Life educates her children to 
fill their place in the world. 

Much as we admire the tiny lime-builders and 
their beautiful shells, we must confess that the slime- 
animal itself is a frail and helpless being, with but 
feeble enjoyment of life, and the first advance which 
we perceive in the sponges is one rather of architec- 
ture than of individual existence. But in the lasso- 
throwers we already begin to detect the rudiments 
of those senses which afterwards become so keen ; 
the nerves, eyes, and ears of the jelly-fish enable it 
at least to begin to appreciate the world around it 
and to live a free and independent life. In the star- 
fish and his companions we advance still further. 
Here is movement by walking as well as by swim- 
ming, a keen eye keeps a look-out on all things 
around, a battery of nerves, complicated muscles, 
and other parts give a far more distinct individuality 


and glimmerings of intelligence to the prickly-skinned 
animals than to the floating jelly, driven hither and 
thither by the currents of the sea. In fact these 
creatures stand at the head of a small but peculiar 
branch of life's children, while we have had to travel 
along another road to reach higher intelligence. 
This road led us from the oyster, so low in percep- 
tion, yet so perfect in his internal mechanism, through 
a long chain of beings to the cunning octopus and 
cuttle-fish. Here we have the quick eye, the rapid 
movement, and the power of adapting things to the 
benefit of the animal, as when the little Sepiola blows 
a hole in the sand and arranges the stones round 
his body ; we have the quick instinct of self-defence 
directing the inky fluid against an enemy, the capa- 
city for changing colour for protection or attack, and 
the maternal care of the eggs. In a word, we arrive 
here at the head of one great division specially 
adapted for marine life, though some of its forms 
gain a footing upon the land. Still this division is 
incapable, so far as we can see, of advancing into 
successful competition with yet higher forms which, 
arising in the dim past almost from the same centre 
as these mollusca, have branched out on sea and 
land into crustaceans and insects. We need scarcely 
follow this branch through its ramifications, for the 
past chapters have shown the gradual progress of 
intelligence accompanying concentration of nervous 
power till we arrive at foresight, prudence, and or- 
ganisation among the ants. 

'Still we must feel that something is wanting, and 
that something is mutual sympathy and help between 
any two beings, independently of mere duty as citi- 


zens. This we shall not find to any extent among 
the invertebrata or animals without back- bones, which 
are those we have dealt with in this book. Among 
the higher mollusca we find something like maternal 
care in the cuttle-fish ; and the scorpion and earwig 
care for their young. But even among insects the 
large majority never live to see their children born, 
and those which do generally leave the care of them 
to others. We must turn for the development of 
fuller sympathy to that other branch, the key-note of 
whose existence is the relation of parents to child- 
ren, of family love. If at a future time we are able 
to trace out the history of the vertebrate animals, it 
will be our great interest to watch the rise of this 
higher feeling. Then we may perhaps learn that 
the "struggle for existence," which has taught the 
ant the lesson of self-sacrifice to the community, is 
also able to teach that higher devotion of mother to 
child, and friend to friend, which ends in a tender 
love for every living being, since it recognises that 
mutual help and sympathy are among the most 
powerful weapons, as they are also certainly the most 
noble incentives, which can be employed in fighting 
the battle of life. 


ABDOMEN, definition of term, 156. 
Acineta or tube-sucker, 21. 
Acontia or darts of the anemone, 

Acorn barnacle, structure of the, 

174, 175- 

Actinozoa, 55. 

Africa, scorpions of, 180. 

Africa, termite mounds of, 230. 

Air-thimble of water-spider, 197. 

Air-tubes of insects, 212. 

America, harvesting ants of, 293- 
295; scorpions of South, 180. 

Amoeba, feeding, 18. 

Anemone, section of an, 67. 

Anemones of the sea, 66 ; group of, 
68 ; their rank among animals, 
10 ; birth of young, 69 ; food 
and enemies of, 69 ; lasso-cell 
of, 53 > parasitic on hermit-crab, 

Animal, first walking, 89 ; the 
simplest, 1 6. 

Animals, distribution of, 7 ; which 
change their form during life, 


Animal-trees, 56. 

Ants, agricultural, 295 ; foraging, 
297 ; garden, 277-287 ; harvest- 
ing, 293; hill or horse, 271-277; 
leaf-cutting, 297; meadow, 287; 
negro, 288-291 ; red, 288; liv- 
ing in hollow thorns, 297 ; slave- 
making, 288 ; antennee-language 

of, 274 ; and aphides, 270-278 ; 
capturing termites, 296 ; cocoons 
of, 280 ; eggs of, 279 ; food 
of, 276 ; friendliness of, 298 ; 
manner of digging, 275-283 ; 
nests of, 279, 283, 295 ; number 
in one nest, 270; migrations of, 
283 ; points of resemblance to 
man, 270; recognition by, 287; 
road-making of, 284, 296 ; roll- 
ing cocoons down a slope, 297 ; 
slave-making expeditions, 289 ; 
stinging and stingless, 272 ; 
structure of, 272 ; wars of, 285 ; 
winged, 282 ; nervous system of 
the, 276; young needing more 
help than the bee, 267 ; feeding 
each other, 278. 

Antedon (Comatula) rosacea, 90. 

Antennae of insects, 1 56. 

Antennules of prawn,. 160. 

Ant-lion, funnel of the, 225. 

Aphides, 201 ; eggs protected by 
ants, 287, 292; multiplication of, 
203 ; winged, 203 ; their rela- 
tion to ants, 278, 292. 

Aphrodite or sea- worm, 151; his- 
pida, harpooned bristles of, 


Apple-trees destroyed by aphides, 

Arctic regions, small crustaceans of, 

1 60. 
Argonaut, figure of, 132 j does not 



sail, 131; male has no shell, 

Argyroneta aquatica, 196. 

Aristotle on mouth of sea-urchin, 

Arthropoda or jointed-footed ani- 
mals, 155. 

Ascidians, 103 note, 117 note. 

Atlantic telegraph, mud from the, 

Atta structor and Atta barbara, 293. 


"Balancers" of the daddy-long- 
legs, 261. 

Balanus, structure of the, 176. 

Barnacles, floating (Lepas), 174. 

Bate, Mr. Spence, on acorn bar- 
nacle, 1 76 ; on hearing of prawn, 

Beads taken by mistake by ants, 


Beetles, adaptation of parts to work, 
261 ; undergo metamorphosis, 
251; muscular power of, 260; 
parasitic, 260 ; rove, 251 ; cock- 
chafer, 252 ; plant-eating, 252, 
355 ; carnivorous, 256 ; water, 
257; cocktail, 256; bombardier, 
255 ; whirligig, 257 ; blind, 
260; bee, 260; skipjack, 261 ; 
sexton, 259; goliath, 251; tiger, 
255; carnivorous, 257. 

Bees, organisation of, 268. 

Bell-flower or Vorticella, 21, 31. 

Belt, Mr., on leaf-cutting and for- 
aging ants, 297 ; on ants helping 
each other, 298. 

Bivalve shells, formation of, 1 06. 

Birds, rate of increase of, 4. 

Black-ant nest, attack on, 289. 

Bladder- worm, 139. 

Bluebottle's early life, 263. 

Botflies, their manner of wounding, 

Bowerbank, Dr., on sponge spic- 
ules, 45, 49. 

Brachiopoda, 103 note. 

Brain-coral, 75. 

Breathing of spider, 1 88; of 
dragon-fly grub, 223 ; of gnat 
grub, 264; of sea-mouse, 15*. 

Breathing -chamber of land snails, 
120 ; -holes of a caterpillar, 238. 

British Museum, shells in the, 1 06; 
forms of star-fish in, 101. 

Brittle star-fish, infancy of a, 79 ; 
full-grown, 84-91 ; its move- 
ments and habits, 92. 

Brobdingnag and Gulliver, 269. 

Bugs, air and water, 207. 

Bunodes gemmacea, 68. 

Burnet-moth with caterpillar and 
cocoon, 246. 

Butler, Mr. A., on spider's web, 

Butterfly, life from a caterpillar, 
236-240 ; head and egg of a, 
237 ; formation of perfect, 

Butterflies and moths, comparison 
of, 243. 

CABBAGE-BUG, Pentatoma, 206. 

Cabbage butterfly's mode of binding 
the chrysalis, 243. 

Caddis-fly and grub, 220-222. 

Calamary, a huge arm of, 131. 

Calamaries, horny pen and hooked 
suckers of, 130. 

Campanulina, 59. 

Cardium, in. 

Carinaria atlantica, 125. 

Carter, Mr., cited, 39. 

Caryophyllium Smithii, 75. 

Caterpillar, head and foot of, 237 ; 
life of a, 236-239 ; leaf-rolling, 
247 ; goat-moth, 248 ; Psyche in 
case, 247 ; Burnet-moth, 246. 

Cases of the caddis-grub, 222. 

Cave anemone, 68. 

Centipede, 156. 

Cephalopoda, or head-footed ani- 
mals, 128. 



Ceratium, Protogenes feeding on a, 

I7> . 
Cerceris, paralysing insects for food, 


Ceylon, land leeches of, 143. 
Chalk formed of foraminifera, 28. 
Chalk-beds, extent of, 28. 
Chitine, nature of, 57, 157. 
Chrysalis bound to a paling, 243 ; 

emerging from caterpillar skin, 

240, 243. 

Chysoara hysocella, figure of, 63. 
Cilia, or whip-like lashes, 38, 64 ; 

on gills of the oyster, 109. 
Cirrhi, on legs of acom-bamacle, 

Claws, snapping, of the star-fish, 88 ; 

of sea-urchin, 98. 
Cleanliness of spiders, 197; of ants, 


Clothes-moth, history of the, 249. 
Coal-mines, insect remains in, 210. 
Cochineal insect, 207. 
Cockchafer, grub, cocoon and beetle, 

Cockle, figure of, III; siphons of, 

113; leaping foot of, 113. 
Cockroaches, clever escape of, 2 1 7 ; 

figure of, 216; enemies of, 

Cocoon carried by spider, 195; how 

the moth emerges from a, 245. 
Cocoons of ants, 280 ; of spiders, 

190, 194; of moths, 245; leaf, 

247 ; hairy, 247 ; rolled down a 

slope by ants, 297. 
Ccelenterata, 55. 

Coleoptera, term explained, 251. 
Colour, changing of octopus, 129; 

in mantle of mollusca, 105. 
Comatula (Antedon) rosacea, 90. 
Coral, history of red, 71 ; section 

of, 73 ; growth of white, 74. 
Crab, development of a, 167-169 ; 

changing his shell, 169 ; mate 

watching a soft, 170; common, 

167; fiddler-crab, 172; racing-, 

!735 fro?-. '73; robber-, 173; 

land-, 1 73 ; carrying a sponge, 38. 
Cray-fish, 159. 
Crickets, night insects, 2 1 5. 
Crinoids or stone-lilies, 78. 
Crops of grass round ants' nests, 

Crustacea, 1 54 > of arctic regions, 

1 60 ; their rank among animals, 


Crustacean parasites, 1 77^ 
Crustaceans, various forms of, 176. 
Cuckoo-spit insect, 205. 
Cup-coral of Devonshire, 75- 
Cuttle-fish, eggs and <( bone" of, 

Cypris, freshwater crustacean, 177- 

DADDY-LONG-LEGS, showing his 
balancers, 262 ; ovipositor of 
mother, 263. 

Daisy anemone, 68 ; young of, 69. 

Daly ell, Sir J., on sea-cucumber, 

Darwin, Mr., on octopus taking 
aim, 128; on structure of acorn- 
barnacle, 176. 

Devonshire cup-coral, 75. 

Diptera, or two-winged flies, 261. 

Disk of agricultural ant-nest, 295. 

Distoma militare, 138. 

Divisions of animal life, IO. 

Doris pilosa, a sea-slug, 124. 

Dragon-fly, life of the, 222-225. 

Dyticus marginalis, true water- 
beetle, 256. 

EARTHWORM, structure and habits 
of, 146 ; cocoons of the, 147. 

Earwig mother, 218. 

Echinodermata, 82. 

Echinus, tube-feet of, 94. 

Ecitons or hunting ants, 297. 

Education of life, 6. 

Edwardsia calimorphia, 68. 

Eggs of ants, 279 ; of aphides 
cared for by ants, 292 ; uf 

3 o6 


campanulina carried in a jelly- 
bell, 60 ; of cockroach in a case, 
217; of cuttle-fish, 130; of ar- 
gonaut, 131 ; of octopus, 131 ; 
of snails and slugs, 122 ; of 
spiders, 190-194. 

Elastic-ringed animals, 135. 

Elytra of bettles, 251. 

Encrinites or fossil stone-lilies, 79. 

Enemies of the sponge, 43. 

Eolis coronata, a sea-slug, 124. 

Emerton, Mr., on spider's web, 187. 

Ephemera, life of the, 221. 

Erber watching trapdoor spiders, 

Eriosoma lanigerum, apple aphis, 

Eyes of ants, 273 ; of caterpillar 
and butterfly, 241 ; of prawn, 
161; of the star-fish, 88; of 
the sea-urchin, 96; of the snail, 
1 20 ; of whirligig beetles divided, 
258; of the young oyster, no; 
of a young crab, 1 68. 

FABRE, M. , on dung- feeding beetles, 

Fairy-shrimps, gills of, 177. 

Feather star-fish, infancy of a, 78- 
90 ; full-grown, 89, 90. 

Feet, tube-, of echinodermata, 80- 
94 ; true and false of a cater- 
pillar, 239. 

Fiddle-crab seizing the hermit, 171. 

Fire-flies, 260. 

Five-fingered star-fish," 80-84. 

Flea, early life of a, 234. 

Flesh-feeding molluscs, 118. 

Flies, various two-winged, 262. 

Flint-shells, 29, 30. 

Flint-sponges, 46. 

Fly, house-, where hatched, 263 ; 
size of brain of, 265. 

Flukes or flat worms, 138. 

Foraging ants, 297. 

Foraminifera, definition of name, 
23; growth of perforated, 27. 

Forbes, Prof., on star-fish's wink, 
89 ; on contortions of brittle 
star, 89.. 

Forel, M., on ant migrations, 284. 

Formic acid used in ant-battles, 

Formica fusca, negro-ant, 288; 
-rufa, 277; -sanguinea, slave-mak- 
ing ant, 288. 

Frog-hopper insect, Aphrophora, 

GADFLY, early life of, 263 ; food 
of the two sexes, 262. 

Ganglia of leech, 144. 

Garden ant lives underground, 277 ; 
keeps aphides, 287 ; its mode of 
fighting, 288. 

Gaucho or lasso-thrower, 5 1 . 

Gem-pimplet, 68. 

Gerris, a water-measurer, 208. 

Gills of fairy shrimps, 177; of 
land -crabs, 173; of May- grub, 
221 ; of octopus, 127 ; of nau- 
tilus, 133; of oyster, 108 ; of 
sea - slugs, 124; of skeleton 
shrimp, 163; of prawn, 164. 

Gizzard of grasshopper, 213. 

Glass-rope sponge, 46. 

Globigerina, 23, 27 ; in chalk, 28. 

Glow-worms, 260. 

Gnat, history of the, 263-265. 

Goat-moth caterpillar, 248. 

Goliath-beetle, 251. 

Gossamer webs, 196. 

Gosse, Mr., on movement of scallop, 


Granaries in ant-hills, 294. 

Grass crops on ants' nest, 294, 295. 

Grasshopper, early origin of the, 
210; large green, and young, 
2 1 1 ; spiracles of, 212; gizzard 
of, 213 ; little green, is a locust, 
214; general structure of, 21 1 ; 
laying her eggs, 211, 214; cry 
of the, 215. 

Grecian Archipelago, sponges of, 35. 



Grub feeding on aphides, 202-204; 

of dragon-fly feeding, 222. 
Gulf of Mexico, sponges of, 35. 
Gulliver cited, 269. 

HAECKEL on eye of star-fish, 88 ; 
finding Protogenes, 16; cited, 
18, 29, 156. 

" Hanging-bell " jelly-fish, 66. 

Harvesting ants, 293. 

Harvest-bug a mite, 199. 

Head of ant, 273. 

Headless mollusca, in. 

Heads, absence of, in lower ani- 
mals, 1 02. 

Helplessness of infant hymenoptera, 

Hemiptera, term explained, 209. 

Hermit-crab, parasites of, 172; 
structure and habits of, 170. 

Hertwig on nerves of medusae, 6l. 

Hill-ant, structure of, 271; nests 
of, 277. 

Holdsworth, Mr., on birth of ane- 
mones, 69. 

Honey-stealing caterpillars, 250. 

Honey-tubes of aphides, 203. 

Hop harvest destroyed by aphides, 

Horse, gad-fly hatched inside the, 
263 ; -mussel, pea-crab in the, 

Huber on slave-making ants, 291, 

Hunting ants, 297. 

Huxley on rate of increase of plants, 
4 ; on structure of acorn bar- 
nacle, 174. 

Hydra, figure of, 51 ; food of, 52 ; 
lasso-cells of the, 53. 

Hydra form of jelly-fish, 64. 

Hydrophilus or black water-beetle, 

Hydrozoa, 55. 

Hymenoptera, 263. 

IANTHINA or ocean-snail, 125. 

Ichneumon fly placing eggs, 267. 

India, termites or white ants of, 225. 

Indian Ocean the home of the 
nautilus, 133. 

Infusoria and their origin, 20. 

Ink-bag of octopus, 127. . 

Insects, air-tubes of, 213 ; at the 
head of invertebrates, 1 1 ; com- 
plete metamorphosis of, 233 ; 
paralysed for food, 267 ; propor- 
tion of, among animals, 158 ; 
use of term, 155. 

Insect's eye, section of an, 224. 

"Insects of the sea" or Crustacea, 

Intelligence of ants, 298; of hymen- 
optera, 266. 

Invertebrata, or animals without 
backbones, 300. 

Ireland, feather-stars of, 91. 

Italian markets, sea-urchins in, 98. 

Italy, coral on coasts of, 73. 

JELLY-BELLS, 55, 59, 61. 

Jelly-fish, their rank among ani- 
mals, 10, 54 ; small weight of 
solid matter in, 62 ; food of, 63 ; 
birth and childhood of the, 65. 

Johnstone, Dr., on sponges, 39. 

Jointed-footed animals, 155. 

King-crabs, 177. 

Kingdoms, animal and vegetable, 


Knobs, in stalk of ant's body, 271. 

LAC insect, 207. 

Lady-bird, 256. 

Lagena 23. 

Land-snails, breathing of, 1 20. 

Lankester, Mr. Ray, on insects, 156. 

La Rochelle damaged by termites, 


Lasius niger, 272. 
Lasso-cells of the hydra, 52. 
Lasso -throwers, meaning of term, 

51 ; various forms of, 54. 

3 o8 


Leaf and stick insects, 218. 
Leaf-miners and their cocoons, 248. 
Leaf-rolling caterpillars, 248. 
Leg of ant bearing combs, 273. 
Leech, food and young of, 145 ; 

nervous system of, 143-145. 
Leeches, land, of Ceylon, 143. 
Lepidoptera, explanation of term, 

Life, various forms of, 2 ; rapid 

increase of, 4. 
Lima building a nest, 1 12. 
Limax maximus, 28,000 teeth of, 


Lime-sponges, figure of, 44. 

Limpet, figure of, 114; habits of, 

Limulus or king-crab, 177. 

Lingthorn's eye winking, 89. 

Linnaeus, on division "insecta," 155. 

Liver-fluke, 139. 

Lobster, breathing-gills of the, 164. 

Lobsters, number sold in London, 
159; rapid multiplication of, 

Locust-swarms, 214. 

Long -worm, Nemertes Borlasia, 

Lowne, Mr., on size of fly's brain, 
265 ; on spider's web, 187. 

Lubbock, Sir J., on ant-communi- 
cation, 274 ; on sorting of ant- 
grubs, 280 ; on age of ants, 281 ; 
on ant-queen working alone, 282 ; 
on ants kept alive by slave, 292 ; 
on ants storing aphis eggs, 292 ; 
on kindness of ants ; 298 ; on 
recognition by ants, 287. 

Lugworm, 150. 

Lyonnet on air-tubes of insects, 

M c CoOK on Texas ants, 295, 296. 
Madrepore coral, 74. 
Madreporiform tubercle, 87. 
Maggot of nut, 254; of pea, 255. 
Mandibles of ants, uses of, 275. 

Mantis or snatching insect, 2 1 8. 

Mantle of mollusca secreting shell, 

"Mask" of dragon-fly grub, 222. 

May-bug or cockchafer, 252. 

May-flies do not eat, 220 ; and 
their grubs, 219-221. 

Meadow-ant keeping aphis eggs, 

Mediterranean, coral of the, 55, 71 ; 
harvesting ants of the, 293 ; large 
octopuses of the, 131 ; sea-urchins 
of, used for food, 98 ; scorpions 
of the, 1 80; trap-door spiders of 
the, 193. 

Medusae, freshwater, 54. 

Medusa's head, 78. 

Membrane-winged insects, 266. 

Metamorphosis imperfect in cock- 
roach, 235 ; of crab, 169 ; of 
gnat, 264 ; of insects, 233. 

Mermis, a thread-worm, 140. 

Mexico, cochineal insect of, 207. 

Migrations of ants, 283. 

Miliolite forming its shell, 24. 

Miliolites, birth of young, 25. 

Mites, land and water, 198 ; para- 
sitic, 199. 

Moggridge, Mr. T., on harvesting 
ants, 293 ; on seed bitten when 
sprouting, 294. 

Mollusca, meaning of term, 104 ; 
shell -secreting mantle of, 104; 
naked-gilled, 123; possible rela- 
tionship to worms, 134; theirrank 
among animals, 1 1 ; vegetable- 
feeding, 114; flesh-feeding, 118. 

Monads, their origin, 20, 31. 

Money-spinners, 196. 

Mosquito, mouth of, 263. 

Mother-of-pearl, cause of, 106. 

Moth, sphinx-, 244; silkworm-, 245; 
oak-eggar-, 246 ; Burnet-, 246 ; 
procession-, 247 ; Psyche-, 247 ; 
goat-, 248 ; clothes-, 249. 

Moths and butterflies, comparison of, 
243 ; and their cocoons, 245-248. 



Myrmica molesta, 271. 
Mytilus, figure of, in. 
Myzoxyle mali, apple-aphis, 205. 
Murie, Dr., cited, 41. 
Mushroom, tiny beetles in, 255. 
Mussels, anchoring- threads of, ill. 

NAKED-GIT.LED mollusca, 123. 
Nautilus, structure of, 133. 
Nereis, a sea- worm, 151. 
Nerve-winged insects, 219. 
Nervous system of medusae, 61 ; of 

star-fish, 86 ; of mollusca, 109 ; 

of leech, 144; of spider, 189; 

of prawn, 165 ; of a caterpillar, 

238 ; of ants, 276. 
Nests of ants, 279 ; formation of 

new, 283. 

Noctiluca, or night-glow, 15, 19, 21. 
Neuroptera, early origin of, 219. 
Newport, Mr., on metamorphosis, 

2 3 6. 

Nodosarina, 23. 

Nummulites forming the Alps, 27. 
" Nurses " of flukes, 138. 
Nurses helping young ant, 281. 
Nut-weevil, 254. 

OAK-EGGAR moth, 246. 
Ocean-snail, lanthina, 125. 
Octopus shooting backwards, 127; 

complicated structure of, 126; 

inky fluid of, 128 ; suckers in 

arms of, 129 ; mother and eggs, 

131 ; changing colour of, 129. 
CEconoma, or leaf - cutting ant, 


Operculum of mollusca, 105. 
Ophiocoma bellis, 84. 
Orang-outang, helplessnessof young, 


Orbitolite shells, 23, 26, 28. 
Orthoptera, term explained, 210. 
Ostrea edulis, figure of, 108. 
Outcasts of animal life, 135. 
Ovipositor of grasshopper, 211 ; of 

bot-fly, 263. 

Oyster, infancy and perils of the, 
109 ; structure of the, 107, 108. 
Oyster-beds, 107. 

PACIFIC, coral islands, 55, 71, 74. 

Painted Pufflet, 68. 

Parasites, 136, 141, 177, 199, 260 ; 
degradation of, 141. 

Parasitic beetles, 260 ; mites and 
ticks, 199. 

Paris houses built of orbitolite lime- 
stone, 28. 

Pea-crab, a parasite of the horse- 
mussel, 136. 

Pea-maggot, 255. 

Pearls, how formed, 106. 

Pecten, in. 
Pen " of calamaries, 130. 

Penerepolis, 23. 

Pentacrinus caput-medusse, 78. 

Periwinkle, formation of shell of, 
105; inside of a, 115; toothed 
rasp of the, 1 1 6 ; gills of the, 

Pholas, burrowing habits of the, 


Phosphorescence, caused by jelly- 
bells, 6 1 ; from one jelly-fish, 
64; of flies and gloworms, 260 ; 
on the sea, 15, 21. 

Phosphoridae, 66. 

Phryganea or caddis-fly, 221. 

Physematium, 29. 

Pincers of scorpion, 179* 

Pinna, anchoring threads of, 1 1 2. 

Planaria, 137. 

Plants, rate of increase of, 4. 

Plant-bugs, 207. 

Plant-lice, 202. 

Plates of brittle-star, 92 ; of sea- 
urchin, 95-97. 

Poison-dart of scorpion, 179; -fangs 
of spider, 183-188. 

Polycistinse or flint builders, 30. 

Polyergus rufescens, mode of fight- 
ing, 288; helplessnessof, 291. 

Polypites, nature of, 57. 


Polyzoa, not dealt with, 103, note. 
Portuguese man-of-war, 66. 
Prawn, structure of the, 160-164; 

shedding his skin, 165 ; cleaning 

himself, 1 66. 

Prickly-skinned animals, 82. 
Princesses among ants, 282. 
Procession-moths and their cocoons, 


Protamoeba, 1 8. 

Protogenes, or thread-slime, 1 6. 
Protozoa, 31. 

Psyche-caterpillars in tubes, 247. 
Pteropods or wing-footed snails, 126. 
Pupa of a butterfly, 240. 
Pyramids formed of nummulite 

limestone, 28. 

QUEEN ANTS laying eggs, 279 ; no 

jealousy between, 282. 
Queen-termite, 228. 

RADIATE plan of structure, 96. 

Radiolarise or flint-builders, 30. 

Rasp (radula) of the periwinkle, 1 16. 

Rays, of star-fish, 85 ; of brittle- 
star, 90 ; of sea-urchin, 95 ; of 
sea-cucumber, 99. 

Razor-fish, figure of, III; burrow- 
ing habits of, 113. 

Red coral, growth of, 72. 

Red mite of vines, 199. 

Red Sea, sponges of, 35. 

Ringed bodies of insects, 155. 

Roads made by ants, 284. 

Romanes, Mr., on nerves of medusae, 

Rose, group of aphides on a, 202. 

Rosy feather-star, 89. 

"Rot" in sheep, 139. 

Rotalia, 23-27. 

Rotifera, 137. 

SAGARTIA viduata, S. bellis, and 

S. troglodytes, 68. 
Sagartiaaae, special darts of the, 69. 
Sand-hopper, Talitrus, 163. 

Sand-wasp, paralysing insects for 

food, 267. 

Saw-flies, young, 267. 
Scallop, figure of, Hi; eyes of the, 


Scarabseus beetle, 258. 

Scent of moths attracting mates, 

Schafer, on nerves of medusae, 61. 

Schultze, on birth of miliolites, 25. 

Scorpion, structure of, 1 80 ; figure 
of with cricket, 179. 

Sea-anemone. See anemone. 

Sea-cucumber, infancy of a, 82 ; 
power of regrowth in the, 10, 
100 ; structure and food of, 99. 

Sea-fir, Sertularia cupressina, 58. 

Sea-mouse or Aphrodite, 150. 

Sea-nymphs, 126. 

Sea-oak coralline, figure of, 56. 

Sea-slugs, 123 ; figures of, 124 ; 
food of, 124. 

Sea-urchin, infancy of a, 81; walk- 
ing on a rock, 94 ; stripped of 
its spines, 95 ; wrapped in sea- 
weed, 93 ; structure of a, 95 ; 
growth of shell of, 96 ; mouth of, 
97 ; food of, 97 ; tube-feet of, 

Sea-worms, fixed, 148 ; active, 151. 

Seeds collected by harvesting ants, 

Sepiola blowing a hole in sand, 130. 

Serpula, its tube and tentacles, 

Sertularia cupressina, 58 ; S. plum- 
ula, 56. 

Sexton or "burying" beetles, 259. 

Sheath-winged insects, 251. 

Shell of argonaut, a cradle, 132 ; 
of sea-urchin, 96. 

Shell-builders, the simplest, 22. 

Shrimp, hand of the, 163. 

Silkworm, how it spins, 245. 

Simplest children of life, 10, 14. 

Siphon of octopus, 127. 

Skeletons of sponges, 43-49. 


Skeleton, outside, of insects, 54, 

Skeleton shrimp, Caprella, 163. 

Slave-making ants, 288 ; helpless- 
ness of one kind, 291. 

Slug, figure of, 122; hidden shell 
in back of, 121. 

Smeathman on termites, 228, 231. 

Snails, metamorphosis of worms in. 
1 38 ; winter shelter of, 1 2 1 ; 
eyes and breathing chamber of, 


Snake-locked anemone, 68. 

Snare-weavers, 179-200. 

Solen, in. 

South America, calamary's arm 

from, 131. 
Sphex paralysing insects for food, 

Sphinx moths and their caterpillars, 


Spicules of sponges, 45. 
Spider, nervous system of, 189 ; 

males feeble and small, 190 ; 

cocoons of, 190, 191, 195; 

structure of, 183; entangling her 

victim, 1 88; manner of spinning 

web, 184. 
Spiders, house, web of, 185 ; 

hunting-, 195 ; tunnelling-, 191 ; 

water-, 196; trap-door-, 192; 

gigantic, 197. 

Spines of sea-urchin, 94, 97. 
Spinnerets of spider, 184. 
Spiracles of grasshopper, 212. 
Spirorbis, 148. 

Sponge, British, 37 ; flint, 47 ; 
section of, magnified, 46 ; lime, 

44; cup, 48; rank of, 35, 41 ; 

spicules of, 45 ; homes of, 35 ; 

section of bath-, 41 ; -fisheries, 36. 
Sponge-animal, growth of, 39-42 ; 

e RS s f> 37 38> flesh composition 

of, 35 ; tissue, 34. 
Sponges, boring, destroying oysters, 

Spur on leg of ant, 271-273. 

Squids, ten - armed cephalopods, 

Star-fish, eyes of the, 88; infancy 
of common, 80 ; its rank among 
animals, 10; various forms and 
sizes of, 101 ; walking apparatus 
of the, 83-86 ; figure of common, 
84 ; section of a, showing struc- 
ture, 85 ; food of the, 87 ; water- 
hole of the, 85. 

Staveley, Miss, on burying beetles, 

Stone -lily the young of feather- 
star, 91. 

Stone-lilies or crinoids, 78. 

Straight-winged insects, 2IO. 

Struggle for existence, 5-7, 12. 

Suckers in arms of octopus, 129. 

Sun-slime, 29. 

Sympathy, how far existing, in ants, 

Synapta a kind of sea-cucumber, 

TEETH in lobster's stomach, 168; 
ofmollusca, 116. 

Tennent, Sir E., on Ceylon leeches, 

Tentacles of hydra, 53; of sea- 
cucumber, 83; of snail, 120. 

Terebella, or shell-binding worm, 
148, 149. 

Teredo, a mollusc, 113. 

Termites, or white ants, 225-231 ; 
figures of, 226 ; mode of working 
of, 227, 229 ; queen-cell of the, 

228 ; eggs and nurseries of the, 

229 ; marching columns of, 23 1 ; 
captured by ants, 2 30. 

Termite mounds of Africa, 230. 
Testacella, figure of, with shell, 123. 
Texas, agricultural ant of, 295. 
Textularia, 23. 
Thorax, definition of term, 156 ; of 

grasshopper, 212. 
Thread-slime or Frotogenes, 1 6. 
Ticks, 136 



Tiger-beetle grub feeding, 256. 

Tools of an animal grow upon it, 7. 

Tortoise-shell butterfly, life of the, 

Trachea or breathing-tube, 212. 

Trap-door spiders, 192. 

Trepangs, I or. 

Trichina in pork, 140. 

Trilobites, 173. 

Tube-feet of star-fish, 80 ; of sea- 
urchin, 94. 

Tube-hydra or Tubularia, 58. 

Tube-sucker or Acineta, 21. 

Turkey, sponges of, 49. 

Two-winged flies, 261. 

UNIVALVE SHELLS, formation of, 

1 06. 
Uraster rubens, 84. 



Venus' Basket, figure of, 47. 
Vertebrata and their divisions, 12. 
Vesicles, supplying the tube-feet of 

star-fish, 87. 
Victoria Regia, Medusa in tank of, 

Vorticella or bell-flower, 21. 

WALLACE on rate of increase of 

birds, 4 ; cited 266. 
Wars of ants, 285. 
Wasp, spider releasing a, 1 89. 
Wasps, nests of, 267. 
Water-boatman, Notonecta, 208. 
Water-cresses, flat-worms on, 137. 

Water- flea (Daphne), 159, 177; 

-measurers, 207 ; -mites, 136, 

199; -snails, 120; -spider, 196. 
Weapons of animals, meaning o f 

term, 7; of sea- worms, 150. 
Web of garden spider, 185 ; of 

house spider, 191 ; of tunnelling 

spider, 191. 
Weevils, 254. 

West Indies, land-crab of the, 173. 
Wings of bugs different from beetles, 

209 ; of butterflies, 240. 
Winged ant killed by slave-makers, 


Winged ants, 282. 
Wing-footed snails, 126. 
Whale feeding on jelly-fish, 76. 
Whelk and eggs, figure of, 1 1 8 ; 

drilling rasp of, 119; young of, 

free-swimming, 119. 
Whelk-shell, hermit crab in a, 1 70. 
Whip-cells of a sponge, 40. 
White ants, not true ants, 225, 231. 
White, Mr. Charters, on a fish within 

a sea-anemone, 69. 
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II, 135; parasitic, 138-141; 

sea-, 151 ; ribbon-, wheel-, and 

long-, 137. 
Workers of ants imperfect females, 

2 7 6. 

YELLOW ant tending eggs of 
aphides, 287. 

ZYGENA filipendula, 246. 


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SIGHT : An Exposition of the Principles of Monocular and Binocular Vision 
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